LINGUIST List 23.855

Mon Feb 20 2012

Books: Semantics/Syntax/Historical Ling: Van linden

Editor for this issue: Danniella Hornby <>

Date: 20-Feb-2012
From: Julia Ulrich <>
Subject: Modal Adjectives: Van linden
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Title: Modal Adjectives Subtitle: English Deontic and Evaluative Constructions in Diachrony and Synchrony Series Title: Topics in English Linguistics [TiEL] 75 Published: 2012 Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton

Book URL:

Author: An Van linden Electronic: ISBN: 9783110252941 Pages: 363 Price: Europe EURO 99.95
Hardback: ISBN: 9783110252934 Pages: 363 Price: Europe EURO 99.95

The book revisits the notion of deontic modality from the perspective of anunderstudied category in the modal domain, viz. adjectives. On the basis ofsynchronic and diachronic corpus studies, it analyses the semantics ofEnglish adjectives like 'essential' and 'appropriate', and uses this to refinetraditional definitions of deontic modality, which are mainly based on thestudy of modal verbs.

In a first step, it is shown that the set of meanings expressed byextraposition constructions with deontic adjectives is quite different from theset of meanings identified in the literature on modal verbs. Adjectivalcomplement constructions lack the directive meanings of obligation orpermission, which are traditionally regarded as the core deontic categories,and they have semantic extensions towards non-modal meanings in theevaluative domain. In a second step, the analysis of adjectives is used topropose an alternative definition of deontic modality, which covers both themeanings of verbs and adjectives, and which can deal with the differentextensions towards modal and non-modal categories. This is integrated into aconceptual map, which works both in diachrony, defining pathways of changefrom premodal to modal to evaluative meaning, and in synchrony,accommodating refinements within each set of meanings. In the process, thisstudy points to the emergence of partially filled constructions, and it offersadditional evidence for well-established changes in the history of English,such as the decline of the subjunctive and the rise of the to-infinitive incomplement constructions.

The book is of particular interest to researchers and graduate students with afocus on mood and modality, and the interface between syntax, semanticsand pragmatics, as well as that between synchrony and diachrony.

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics                             Semantics                             Syntax
Subject Language(s): English (eng)
Written In: English (eng)

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