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Title: Modal Adjectives
Subtitle: English Deontic and Evaluative Constructions in Diachrony and Synchrony
Written By: An Van linden
Series Title: Topics in English Linguistics [TiEL] 75

The book revisits the notion of deontic modality from the perspective of an
understudied category in the modal domain, viz. adjectives. On the basis of
synchronic and diachronic corpus studies, it analyses the semantics of
English adjectives like 'essential' and 'appropriate', and uses this to refine
traditional definitions of deontic modality, which are mainly based on the
study of modal verbs.

In a first step, it is shown that the set of meanings expressed by
extraposition constructions with deontic adjectives is quite different from the
set of meanings identified in the literature on modal verbs. Adjectival
complement constructions lack the directive meanings of obligation or
permission, which are traditionally regarded as the core deontic categories,
and they have semantic extensions towards non-modal meanings in the
evaluative domain. In a second step, the analysis of adjectives is used to
propose an alternative definition of deontic modality, which covers both the
meanings of verbs and adjectives, and which can deal with the different
extensions towards modal and non-modal categories. This is integrated into a
conceptual map, which works both in diachrony, defining pathways of change
from premodal to modal to evaluative meaning, and in synchrony,
accommodating refinements within each set of meanings. In the process, this
study points to the emergence of partially filled constructions, and it offers
additional evidence for well-established changes in the history of English,
such as the decline of the subjunctive and the rise of the to-infinitive in
complement constructions.

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

Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
Review: Read the review
BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
Subject Language(s): English
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Format: Electronic
ISBN-13: 9783110252941
Pages: 363
Prices: Europe EURO 99.95
Format: Hardback
ISBN-13: 9783110252934
Pages: 363
Prices: Europe EURO 99.95