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Modality

Chapter

Abstract

Linguists have pointed out that the linguistic representation of a given state of affairs always also involves assigning a degree of truth to that representation. The previous sentence, for example, was assigned a high degree of truth (because of the word always), but I could also have said ‘that the linguistic representation of some state of affairs often involves…’ or ‘the linguistic representation of some state of affairs may involve…’, and that would have assigned a lower degree of truth to my assertion. The term ‘modality’ refers to the linguistic resources for expression such degrees of truth, for instance such resources as the modal auxiliaries may, will, must and so on, modal adverbs like perhaps, probably, certainly and so on, modal adjectives and nouns (for example, probable and probability) and so on.

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Copyright information

© Theo van Leeuwen 1999

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