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LINGUIST List 19.1466

Fri May 02 2008

Qs: Conditionals Instead of Must/Should/May Modals

Editor for this issue: Catherine Adams <catherinlinguistlist.org>


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        1.    Stefan Knoob, Conditionals Instead of Must/Should/May Modals


Message 1: Conditionals Instead of Must/Should/May Modals
Date: 29-Apr-2008
From: Stefan Knoob <sk95soas.ac.uk>
Subject: Conditionals Instead of Must/Should/May Modals
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In some languages (e.g. Japanese and Korean), conditional constructions are
the only option for the expression of deontic modalities.
That is, there are no MUST/SHOULD/MAY-type functors and instead OPTATIVE,
OBLIGATIVE, PROHIBITIVE, PERMISSIVE and similar modalities are exclusively
expressed through constructions such as

IF X then GOOD (If you help, that would be great = Could you help me?)
ONLY IF X then BECOME (Only if I go will it do = I have to go)
EVEN IF X then OK (Even if you eat it's OK = You may eat)

My queries then are:
(1) Apart from Korean & Japanese, are there any other languages where
deontic modalities are exclusively or predominantly expressed with
conditionals?
(2) Are there any languages where deontic modalities are only/predominantly
expressed through subjunctives?

Even 1-word answers with the language name would be appreciated, references
would be great. As usual, a follow-up summary will be posted.

Stefan Knoob
School of Oriental and African Studies, London

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics
                            Typology

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