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Summary Details


Query:   German Modal Verb
Author:  Raija Solatie
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   General Linguistics

Summary:   Hi my colleagues,

First of all I want to thank everybody who answered to my query about
the modalverb "sollen" in German. My first impression is that, like with
a lot of other subjects, which concern linguistical problems in German
in general, their treatement is focused on syntactical points of view.
Despite if this, many researches have been made also on the
morphological behavior of modals verbs in German. So, I think there
exists a need to do research on these verbs, and especially on "sollen",
within semantic framework.

"Sollen" is very different from the other modal verbs. Their first
morphological difference exists in forms "Konjunktiv II" and
"Praeteritum".With "sollen" you don't use "Umlaut" in Konjunktiv II,
but with the other modal verbs yes.
ich sollte - ich sollte
ich koennte - ich konnte
ich moechte - ich wollte
ich muesste - ich musste
ich duerfte - ich durfte
ich moechte - ich mochte

The semantics of "sollen" also seems to be somehow neutral or weak, if
we compare it with the other modal verbs, and especially with "wollen".
Let's have a look at the following examples:

1) Wir sollten uns gestern treffen, und es passierte, weil er sein
Zimmer aufgeraeumt hatte.
2) Wir sollten uns gestern treffen, aber es passierte nicht, weil er
sein Zimmer nicht aufgeraeumt hatte.

3) Wir wollten uns gestern treffen, und es passierte, weil seine
Freundin sich nicht gemeldet hatte.
4) Wir wollten uns gestern treffen, aber es passierte nicht, weil seine
Freundin sich gemeldet hatte.

If we try to explane the reason with "the other woman" for using
"sollen", it is not possible.

5)* Wir sollten uns gestern treffen, und es passierte, weil seine
Freundin sich nicht gemeldet hatte.
6)* Wir sollten uns gestern treffen, aber es passierte nicht, weil seine
Freundin sich gemeldet hatte.

This prominent difference can still be defined by using "wollen" for
explaining the reason, why we didn't meet each other.

7)* Wir wollten uns gestern treffen, aber es passierte nicht, weil er
nicht wollte.

Thus I am going to use these Praeteritum-sentences for developing my
small theory to explain those special features of the modalverb "sollen"
in German, within semantic framework.

I want to thank the following persons who have helped me with my
research:

Andreas Ammann
Jan Engberg
Christoph Gutknecht
Eva Breindl
Guido Oebel
Leslie K Arnovick
Nick Sobin
Tanja Mortelmans
Hans Broekhuis
Geert Brone
Larry
Kristin Melum Eide

Soon we are going to know a little bit more about "Was soll mit "sollen"
gemeint sein".

raija solatie



Mme Raija Solatie
linguiste/philosophe
Kaskihara 20
02340 Espoo20
Finlande
tel : +358-9-8136989
courriel : raija.solatie@kolumbus.fi
pages web : http://www.kolumbus.fi/raija.solatie

LL Issue: 13.268
Date Posted: 31-Jan-2002
Original Query: Read original query


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