Volume 28, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0176-4225
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9714
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This paper proposes a diachronic syntactic analysis of the Romanian verb putea “can”. It is argued that the grammaticalization of putea consists of several upward reanalyses, and the gradual stripping of semantic features set off its reclassification as control verb > raising verb > auxiliary > pragmatic marker. This analysis accounts for ambiguous epistemic/deontic readings on the modal, which were considered mysterious under lexical/semantic approaches; it also explains why infinitive verbs are so productive as complements to the modal; and it points out that conversational pragmatic features must be factored in as triggers of syntactic reanalysis.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): can; modal; Romanian; syntax-pragmatics interface
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