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date: 18 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

From a diachronic perspective, the evolution of the English modals has been described in terms of progressive subjectification, whereby they are claimed to have acquired the status of (highly grammaticalized) “grounding predications,” which, together with tense and person inflections, relate the complement to the speech situation (the ground). One of the main merits of a cognitive linguistic analysis of modality is its focus on semantics, which has resulted in a considerable number of fine-grained semantic (network) analyses of modal markers, both from a diachronic and a synchronic point of view. Moreover, Leonard Talmy's force dynamics has provided a schematic conceptual background, against which a number of different, but related, models of modal meaning have been developed. This article deals with modal verbs in cognitive linguistics and discusses polysemy versus monosemy, metaphor, metonymy, minimal shifts/partial sanctioning, root modality and epistemic modality, subjectification and “grounding predications,” and mood in cognitive linguistics.

Keywords: modality, cognitive linguistics, mood, modal verbs, subjectification, grounding predications, semantics, polysemy, monosemy, metaphor

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