Modality and Subordinators

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This book connects two linguistic phenomena, modality and subordinators, so that both are seen in a new light, each adding to the understanding of the other. It argues that general subordinators (or complementizers) denote propositional modality (otherwise expressed by moods such as the indicative-subjunctive and epistemic-evidential modal markers). The book explores the hypothesis both on a cross-linguistic and on a language-branch specific level (the Germanic languages). One obvious connection between the indicative-subjunctive distinction and subordinators is that the former is typically manifested in subordinate clauses. Furthermore, both the indicative-subjunctive and subordinators determine clause types. More importantly, however, it is shown, through data from various languages, that subordinators themselves often denote the indicative-subjunctive distinction. In the Germanic languages, there is variation in many clause types between both the indicative and the subjunctive and <i>that</i> and <i>if </i>depending on the speaker’s and/or the subject’s certainty of the truth of the proposition.

Subjects: Theoretical linguistics; Germanic linguistics; Typology; Semantics; Syntax

  • Affiliations: 1: Lund University

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