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Subjective modality

Faculty of Romance and Germanic Philology

Department of English Language and Literature


Ways of expressing modality

STUDENT: Alvard Sargsyan

SUPERVISOR: N. Martirosyan







Introduction ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3

Chapter 1

1.1. The definition of modalities--------------------------------------------------------------4

1.2.Classification of means of expressing modality----------------------------------------8

Chapter 2

Means of expressing modality----------------------------------------------------------------10

2.1.Imperative mood and deontic modality-------------------------------------------------11

2.3.Grammatical modality--------------------------------------------------------------------12





In the Linguistic Encyclopedic Dictionary modality is defined as a functional-semantic category which expresses different types of relations between the utterance and reality as well as different types of subjective evaluation of the information contained in the utterance. In the deepest sense, modality is concerned with the differing and varying levels of being; hence its central place in both ontology and epistemology. The study of modality could be called 'Tropology': it is a broad field.Modality in English has to do with the world, not so much the way it is as the way it might potentially be. There are various linguistic means of expressing this in English, e.g. with adverbs, adjectives, nouns, verbs.The problem of modality was examined by researchers such as M. A. Blokh,Palmer F. R., E. V. Gordon, I. B. Morozova, N. M. Rayevska, I. V. Korunets and others. For example, E.Morokhovska and G.Verba studied the main peculiarities of modal verbs, E. M. Gordon and I. B. Morozova denoted the semantics, N. M. Rayevska appointed the main functions of modal verbs, I. V.Korunets studied ways and means of expressing modality in English and Ukrainian.In Frank Robert Palmer’s works modality is concerned with mood and with modal markers such as English modal verbs.The object of this research is means of expressing modality.The subject of this study is the category of modality and its implementation in the text.The aim of the given work is research modality, its formation and difficulties connected with their usage. Also, to show the peculiarities of Modal Verbs, how Modal Verbs can be used, translate, in what case we need to use one or the other Modal Verbs and why.To accomplish the aim the following tasks are set:

1.Analyze the peculiarities of the modality

2.Learn the notion of modality

3.Examine the usage of Modal Verbs in different styles.


Theoretical and methodological basis of the research were the works of both Russian and foreign linguists in grammar, logic, syntax and general issues of language.The practical significance of the work is determined by the ability to consider the results of the study as part of a comprehensive

study of fragmented functional-semantic category of modality and means of linguistic

representations of its components.Structurally the work consists of Introduction,Content, two Chapters, Conclusion,Bibliography

Chapter 1:The definition of modalities

Modality comes from a Latin word ‘’modus’’,which means measure,method,shape.Modality s a multifold phenomenon,a category of linguistic meaning having to do with the expression of possibility and necessity which is expressed by the speaker towards the action.A speaker can express -ability,possibility,necessity,obligation,willingness and certainty by using modal verbs and expressions.

Modality is divided into two types:

1.Objective modality

Subjective modality

Objectivemodality is an attitude of the expression towards reality or unreality,possibility or impossibility,necessity or probability etc. Subjectie modality is the expression of speaker’s attitude towards the utterance.Objective modality is expressed at the level of syntactic sentence division:grammatical means of objective Mood,different types of intonation and others.Subjective modality is expressed at the level of logico-grammatical sentence division.Logico-grammatical level depends on the activity of the cognitive process,which is directed to one or another phenomenon of the reality.The subjective moment during any cognitive act appears particularly when the speaker evaluates the degree of certainty of the idea.

Means of expressing subjective modality are: intonation(which expresses doubt,regret,certainty,surprise,pleasure,irony etc.),word order,lexical repetitions,modal words and


particles,interjections,parenthetic words and word combinations,parenthetic clauses.

Unlike objective modality which reflects a character of the connections in the reality and because this is a component of a concrete of the sentence,subjective modality is not a result of the reflection of reality.It reflects only the evaluation of the adequacy of its reflection,which is given by the subject of the idea and denotes the degree of certainty of the content point from this point of view.Therefore subjective modality is not a component of the concrete content of the sentence and it functions only as formal-grammatical meaning regardless of the fact whether it appears with the help of special morphemes of function words with modal meaning. The researchers note that objective modality is obligatory to any expression,thus subjective modality is facultative.This statement is entirely true. Moreover,two types of modality are very different.For the events which are connected with the notion ‘’objective modality’’,we can use a term ‘’modality’’ and for this what we name ‘’subjective modality’’we can use a term ‘’emotiveness’’.

The modal verb is a distinct verb form,unique to Germainc languages and to English,especially that differs from prototypical verbs in form and function.The nine full modal verbs in English are can,could,shall,should,will,would,may,might and must.The four quasi-modal verbs in English ,which are subset of modal verbs that ‘’possess some but not all properities of prototypical modals’’ are used to,ought to,would rather and had better(had best).Unlike prototypical English verbs,modal verbs are defective and neuteral.Verbal defectiveness refers to a lack of non-tensed forms,verbal neutralization to the lack of separate third person singular simple present forms.Modal verbs differ from prototypical verbs because modal verbs perform only the auxiliary grammatical function of modal within verb phrases functioning as predicates.

Among the scholars who investigate modality we can mention Sh.Ballie-he was the first to define the category of modality in West-European linguistics.In Russian linguistics the prominent role is researching the category of modality belongs to academican V.V.Vinogradov.He wrote a lot of books connected with this notion and means of its expression.Among other scholars who also tried to describe the modality phenomenon are V.Z.Panfilov, G.A.Zolotova, L.S.Yermolaeva,



G.V.Korshanskiy and others. Notion ‘’modality’’goes back to classic formal logic,from which linguistics borrows the classification of propositions into assertional(propositions of reality),problematical(propositions of possibility) and apodictial (propositions of necessity) and besides into reliable and probable propositions. In the practice of linguistic researches the limits of using the term ‘’modality’’ lost their distinctness.The interpretation of modality is extraordinary board in modern linguistics,besides it is very hard to find two authors,who would understand modality in the same way.

In West-European linguistics Sh.Ballie‘s conception of modality was widely spread. Inhis opinion, in any utterance/expression we can single out basic content (dictum) and modal part (modus), in which is expressed intellectual, emotional and volitional consideration of the speaker concerning the dictum. In Sh.Ballie‘s interpretation modality is presented as syntactic category, in the expression of which the modal verbs play the main role.German scholars follow this conception. The authors of academic edition, following Ballie, single out as modal the meanings of reality/unreality, possibility/impossibility,certainty/uncertainty (supposition, probability). Thus the essence of "modality" consistsin the relativization of the validity of sentence meanings to a set of possible worlds,from a speaker’s-evaluation approach,modality is the speaker’s cognitive, emotive, or volitive attitude toward a state of affairs, his commitment or detachment, his envisaging several possible courses of events or his considering of things being otherwise.

Modality is another name for mood , but one applied more specially to certain distinctions concerned with the speaker’s estimate of the relation between the but one applied more specially to certain distinctions concerned with the speaker’s estimate of the relation between the actor and the accomplishment of some event. Mood is a formal verbal category while modalities have been treated primarily in terms of modal meaning (Koktová,1998).Modality may be expressed through verbs, adjectives, nouns, adverbs, particles,intonation.




In Russian linguistics modality was also a subject of interest for many scholars. Here it is worth mentioning academician V.V Vinogradov.He was one of the first who gave very broad interpretation of the category of modality. His works, dedicated to the problem of modality, are very important for modern linguists.V. V. Vinogradov first of all refers modality to ―the fundamental structural characteristic of any sentence and characterizes it as ―the speaker‘s evaluation of the relation of utterance content to the reality.

His definition of modality is widely used in English studies, possibly because, as I.R.Galperin mentions - modern English grammars avoid giving the definition of this category, and when they deal with it, they limit themselves to the indication of the forms,in which

modality is realized.Another Russian scholar V. Z. Panfilov distinguishes two types of modal meanings:objective modality and subjective modality . In his opinion objective modality

reflects a character of objective connections, which take place in this or that situation, to which cognitive act refers, namely, a possible, real and necessary connections.Subjective modality

expresses the evaluation of the degree of knowledge of these connections from the point of view of the speaker, they point out the credibility value of idea, which surrounds a particular situation.Some scholars emphasize other aspects of modality, not denying its evaluative character. G. A. Zolotova for example distinguishes 3 meanings of modality:

1.an attitude of the person to the reality from the speaker‘s point of view

2. speaker‘s attitude to the content of the expression

3. agent‘s attitude to the action

L. S. Yermolaeva distinguishes two main modalities internal and external . By the―

internal modality she understands an agent‘s attitude to action performed; by the

external modality – an attitude of the contents of the sentence to the reality.In spite of differences in determination of the notion modality there are clashes of opinions on the categorical belonging of this notion. For example scholar R.A. Budagov speaks about modality as grammatical category,

L.S. Yermolaeva considers modality as syntactic category, mentioning that lexical means remain beyond the bounds of syntactic modality . Modality as semantic category is distinguished by V.V. Vinogradov,G.V. Kolshanskiy, I.B. Khlebnikova.


One type of modality epistemic(Greek episteme meaning ‘’knowledge’’)is concerned with the speaker’s judgement of the truth of the proposition embedded in the statement.


They {should,ought }to be in Paris by now.

The second primary category of modality is deonticmodality.Deontic modality(Greek deon , meaning ‘’duty’’)is concerned with ‘’influencencing actions,states or events’’,in other words it is oriented towards perforfing speech acts doing things with words.


They {should,ought to} leave at once.

In deontic modality,the speaker does some thing such as giving permission or advice.With epistemic modalitythe speaker comments on the probability of the truth the preposition perhaps saying that he is certain that it is false(can not)or that is reasonable to assume that it is true (shold).

Date: 2015-12-18; view: 2900

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