Zelfstandig gebruikte modalen : een functioneel perspectief
Faculty of Arts. Linguistics and Literature
Nederlandse taalkunde. - Groningen, 1996, currens
, p. 351-373
University of Antwerp
Autonomously used modals: A functional perspective This paper offers a cognitive-functional account of the autonomous use i.e., the use without a main verb elsewhere in the clause of the Dutch modals kunnen (can), mogen (may) and moeten (must), as a deviance from their default auxiliary use. The study is corpus-based and takes a predominantly diachronic perspective on the subject matter. It reveals that the autonomous use is strongly increasing in frequency since Early New Dutch, and that it has distinct grammatical properties (a strong tendency towards intransitive uses with a deictic pronoun referring to a state of affairs as the subject) and semantic properties (featuring the full range of (inter)subjective meanings of the auxiliary uses, but with a strong tendency towards deontic modal and directive uses). These properties are clearly different from those of the original main verbal uses from which these modals have emerged in Old and Early Middle Dutch. The paper offers an explanation for the emergence and increasing importance of this new autonomous use in terms of the principle of iconicity.