sábado, maio 21, 2011

Modal Adjuncts — Inglês Avançado

Kinds of modality

Adverbs such as necessarily, probably, possibly, surely belong among the quite diverse set of forms expressing modal meaning (see Ch. 3, §9.i.). Other items in the set include verbs, especially the modal auxiliaries, and adjectives, such as necessary, probable, etc. Verbs function as predicator, and in complement position adjectives too are predicative, so in these two cases the modality is expressed by means of predication, whereas the adverbs typically involve modification. Compare:


i a. He must have made a mistake. b. He has surely made a mistake.

ii a. They should be in Berlin by now. b. They are probably in Berlin by now.

iii a. It is possible that they are related. b. They are possibly related.

The adjunct may indeed combine with a verb in what we have called modal harmony, i.e. with dual or reinforced expression of a single modal meaning: He must surely have made a mistake; They should probably be in Berlin by now.

We saw in Ch. 3, §9, that modal auxiliaries can be used to express a range of different kinds of modality, epistemic, deontic, or dynamic. Modal adjuncts, however, are pre-dominantly used for epistemic modality, where it is a matter of the speaker’s assessment of the truth of the proposition expressed in the residue or the nature of the speaker’s commitment to its truth. Modal adjuncts are not used to express deontic modality (obligation, permission, etc.). Compare, for example:

[2] i a. You must return it to her tomorrow. b. You surely return it to her tomorrow.

ii a. He can/may stay until six. b. Possibly he stays until six.

In the salient interpretation of [ia] I impose on you the obligation to return it to her tomorrow, but [ib] cannot have this deontic meaning: surely has an epistemic meaning and the present tense is interpreted as a futurate: “Surely the arrangement is that you return it to her tomorrow”. The intended interpretation of [lia] is that he has permission to stay until six, but again [iib] can’t have that deontic meaning: it has an epistemic reading combining with either a multiple situation (“Perhaps he habitually stays until six”) or a futurate (“Perhaps the arrangement is that he stays until six”).

Modal adjuncts are, indeed, often referred to as ‘epistemic adjuncts’. We prefer the more general term because in spite of the above restrictions there are some uses that fall outside the epistemic category. Compare, for example, the two uses of necessarily in:

[3 ] i You’re his uncle, so necessarily he’s your nephew. ii Twice as many people turned up as we had been told to expect, so necessarily things were a little chaotic for a while.

In [i] necessarily has an epistemic interpretation: given that the proposition “You’re his uncle” is true, the proposition “He’s your nephew” is necessarily true: its truth is absolutely guaranteed. In [ii], by contrast, it’s nota matter of the truth of one proposition following from that of another, but of one situation being the result of another: the unexpectedly large number of people caused the chaos. Unavoidably could substitute for necessarily in [ii], but hardly in [i]. Examples like [ii] can be included in the category we have called dynamic modality, here a matter of the interaction between one situation and another.

Note also that while modal adjuncts are not used deontically on their own, possibly can be used in modal harmony with deontic can in requests for permission or action:

[4] i Could I possibly borrow your bicycle for half an hour? ii Could you possibly come a little earlier next week?

Consider, finally, the adverb hopefully, as used in:

[5] The good weather will hopefully last for another week.

Here we are concerned not with knowledge and probability but with desire. This is a type of modality not expressed by the modal auxiliaries, though it has some connection with deontic modality: if I say You must come in now this is likely to imply that I want you to come in now.[33]

Strength of modality

In discussing the meanings of the modal auxiliaries we distinguished three levels of strength, according to the speaker’s commitment to the truth of the proposition, or to the actualisation of the situation, expressed by their complement. Must, need, will, and shall are strong, should and ought are medium, can and may are weak. Necessarily, probably, possibly are then examples of adverbs belonging respectively to the three categories.

Modal adverbs, however, are considerably more numerous than the auxiliaries, and are not so easily classified on this dimension. In the following list, we distinguish four levels, adding a ‘quasi-strong’ category between the strong of necessarily and the medium of probably:

i. assuredly, certainly, clearly, definitely, incontestably, indubitably, ineluctably, inescapably, manifestly, necessarily, obviously, patently, plainly , surely, truly, unarguably, unavoidably, undeniably, undoubtedly, unquestionably.
ii. apparently , doubtless, evidently, presumably, seemingly,
iii. arguably, likely, probably
iv. conceivably, maybe, perhaps, possibly.

Some of these show the familiar contrast between manner and non-manner uses:


i a. I could see her clearly.
b. He had clearly been irresponsible.

ii a. He was flirting too obviously.
b. He was obviously flirting.

But such items are in the minority: most of the adverbs in [6] do not occur with a matching manner use.

The strong items (of which [6] gives only a sample) commit the speaker to the truth of the modalised proposition. An unmodalised assertion such as Kim chaired the meeting or Pat is in love also commits me to the truth of the propositions expressed: addition of a strong modal adjunct emphasises that commitment or makes it more explicit.

33. The modal use of hopefully (as distinct from the manner use of He was looking hopefully around) was quite rare until around the 1960s, when it acquired considerable popularity, but also aroused strong (in some cases quite intemperate) opposition from conservative speakers. It has become thoroughly established, and the opposition has abated somewhat in the last few years.

FONTE: The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, páginas 767-768.

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