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date: 28 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article deals with the semantic analysis of the notion of modality, surveying the most important traditional views in linguistics. After pointing out the problems encountered in the literature in trying to define the category, it first discusses the in the literature most common basic types of modality, namely, dynamic modality, deontic modality, and epistemic modality, as well as the less common basic category of boulomaic modality. It then goes on to survey a variety of alternative views on how the semantic domain of modality may be organized. The article also considers the types of criteria that have been proposed to motivate the “cover category” of modality. Finally, it outlines a few features and properties frequently referenced in the literature on modality as characteristic of (some of) the modal categories, including subjectivity vs objectivity or intersubjectivity, performativity vs descriptivity, informational status, and the semantic scope of qualificational dimensions.

Keywords: modality, dynamic modality, deontic modality, epistemic modality, boulomaic modality, subjectivity, performativity, information structure, semantic scope

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