This thesis investigates the interaction of aspect and subjectivity in
modal constructions. In the linguistic literature dealing with the
connection between aspect and modality, a link has often been observed
between imperfective aspect and modal readings. However, as is shown in
this study, both aspect prominent languages, such as Slavic languages, and
tense prominent languages, such as Germanic languages, present exceptions
to this hypothesized rule, since perfective aspect can appear with modal
readings in both types of languages. The following two questions concerning
the interaction between aspect and modality are discussed in this thesis:
Can the hypothesis about a link between imperfective aspect and modality be
confirmed or rejected?
Is imperfective aspect attracted to more ‘subjective’ modal readings?
The data which are the focus of the thesis comprise modal infinitive
constructions in Russian, German and Dutch, imperative constructions in
Russian and Dutch, and modal uses of tenses in Russian and Serbian. In
order to compare the interaction of aspect and subjectivity in modal
constructions, the data are classified according to a parameter of
modality. For that purpose, the semantic map approach to modality proposed
by Van der Auwera & Plungian (1998) is used. The notion of subjectivity
adopted in the thesis is based on the definition of Langacker (1985). The
thesis proposes three tests for determining degrees of subjectivity in
modal uses of the different constructions. The tests relate to the
The nature of the modal source;
The role of the modal target participant;
The nature of the subject.
The book shows that modal meanings can actually be expressed with both
imperfectives and perfectives, both in aspect and in tense prominent
languages. However, modal readings that are more subjective do most often
correlate with imperfective aspect.