Title
Source and strength of modality : an empirical study of root should, ought to and be supposed to in Present-day British English Source and strength of modality : an empirical study of root should, ought to and be supposed to in Present-day British English
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Social Sciences. Communication Sciences
Publication type
article
Publication
Amsterdam ,
Subject
Linguistics
Source (journal)
Journal of pragmatics: an interdisciplinary quarterly of language studies. - Amsterdam
Volume/pages
55(2013) , p. 210-225
ISSN
0378-2166
ISI
000324011400014
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
The parameters of source and strength are often presented as crucial for the semantic profile of modal verbs expressing root necessity such as 'should', 'ought to' and 'be supposed to'. Their role, however, is hard to assess because of the lack of clear definitions. This article offers a new perspective on the nature of subjectivity and strength that is grounded in detailed, qualitative corpus analysis of sentences with 'should', 'ought to' and 'be supposed to'. It operationalises and refines both parameters and applies them to an extensive corpus of 1200 Present-day English sentences with 'should', 'ought to' and 'be supposed to', which results in an updated and more accurate picture of the meaning distinctions between them. More generally, the study shows that an accurate interpretation of modal meanings is to a large extent dependent on the discourse context, and that a detailed corpus analysis is required to understand the complexity of the parameters interacting in the establishment of modal meanings in context. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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