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A closer look at subjectification in the grammaticalization of English modals

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Abstract

This paper takes a closer look at subjectification in the grammaticalization of English modals, using a case study on the root usage of <i>must</i> in Early Modern English (EModE) and later versions of English and its ancestral form <i>mo(o)t</i> in Middle English (ME). This contribution has the following three aims: (i) to quantitatively show that the root <i>must</i> underwent subjectification through its grammaticalization from the root <i>mo(o)t</i>, (ii) to propose a pragmatic motivation for this subjectification, with a special focus on instances of <i>mo(o)t</i> in the construction expressing a speaker&#8217;s prayer, and (iii) to operationalize subjectification in terms of the person distribution of subjects in sentences with <i>mo(o)t</i> and <i>must</i>.

References

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