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LINGUIST List 23.1314

Thu Mar 15 2012

Qs: External Necessity, Epistemic/Deontic Possibility

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Date: 14-Mar-2012
From: Igor Yanovich <yanovichmit.edu>
Subject: External Necessity, Epistemic/Deontic Possibility
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The older works on grammaticalization of modality (Bybee et al. 1994,
van der Auwera and Plungian 1998) do not list a development of an
epistemic possibility sense from a circumstantial/deontic necessity
sense. Potentially, such a development occurred in some Dinka
dialects (such ambiguity is manifested in the speech of a speaker of
Dinka Bor I'm working with at the moment), and in Adyghe
(Kimmelmann 2010, field notes). I do not know much more at the
moment; even the direction of change is not supported by evidence,
though from the general considerations of how grammaticalization of
modal meanings works, I'd be surprised if the development went in the
other direction.

Here are two examples from Dinka Bor illustrating the phenomenon (I
omit tones and phonations):

Auxiliary ''dhil'', DEONTIC NECESSITY:

(1) Majok dhil riN thaal
Majok dhil meat cook
''Majok _must_ cook meat'' (can be used as a command)

Auxiliary ''dhil'', EPISTEMIC POSSIBILITY:

(2) a luel Dau, ye Majok a dhil riN thaal
AGR say Dau COMP? Majok AGR dhil meat cook
''Dau says that Majok _maybe_ is cooking meat''

Would anyone know of other languages which would have such
polysemy, or maybe even had a recorded history of such historical

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

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