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The semantic path from modality to aspect

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Abstract

Ability has a number of lexical sources including dynamic, telic verbs of various sorts. For example, <i>manage to,</i> a verb implying that there were difficulties to overcome can come to mean &#8216;ability&#8217;, a development which has parallels in other languages. In this paper translations into Swedish are used as a window to show that <i>can</i>, <i>be able to</i> and <i>manage to</i> are closely related to each other. It is argued that in grammaticalisation studies of modality one has paid a lot of attention to &#8216;ability&#8217; as a source for deontic and epistemic meanings but neglected its relevance as a source for the development to an aktionsart meaning associated with actuality and result.

References

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