Annual Review of Cognitive Linguistics: Volume 3
  • ISSN 1572-0268
  • E-ISSN: 1572-0276
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In this paper it is argued that Langacker’s definition of grounding predications is problematic for languages other than English. The idea that in English tense and modal auxiliaries are mutually exclusive grounding elements leads Langacker (1990, 2003) to consider both deontic and epistemic modal auxiliaries as grounding predications, whereas he excludes German modals from being so on the basis of their tense inflection. In this paper I contend that, unlike the deontic modal verbs, and despite their tense marking, Spanish epistemic modals deber ‘must’, poder ‘may’ and tener que ‘have to’ are certainly appropriate for modal grounding due to their reference point function and to the subjectification they undergo. I show that deontic modality is more affected by temporal grounding than epistemic modality. Moreover, the impossibility of inserting an inchoative verb such as ir a ‘to be going to’ corroborates the theoretical underpinning that Spanish epistemic modals effect an epistemic grounding similar to that of the grounding predications in English.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): grounding; modality; reference points; Spanish modal verbs; subjectification
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