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Dimensions of implicit modality in Igbo

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Abstract

Modality is one of the grammatical categories in Igbo language studies that received the least attention within the last century. There is, however, a growing awareness that the category of modality is expressed in the language through specific verbs and suffixes that have recently been (re-)categorised as modal verbs and modal suffixes, respectively (Uchechukwu 2008, 2011). This paper explores further the issue of modality in Igbo by focusing on the constructions and lexical items that could be involved in the implicit expression of modality in the language. The different types of constructions include <i>wh</i>-complement, simple relative clause, and purpose clause constructions. Lexically, the verb <i>-kw&#233;</i> &#8216;agree&#8217; can be used to implicitly encode varying degrees of modal possibility. An additional lexical item that encodes implicit modality is the <i>bound verb complement</i> (BVC) (Nwachukwu 1987) or <i>bound cognate noun</i> (BCN) (Emenanjo 1978), which is a verbal derivative that is formed through a reduplication of the verb root. The insight from this investigation is that the Igbo language need not be classified as belonging to those languages with &#8216;sparse modality&#8217;; instead, it can be described as fully possessing the grammatical category of modality, expressed both implicitly and explicitly.

References

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