Modals in contemporary Slovene

Modals in contemporary Slovene
Author: Carolin F. Roeder, Björn Hansen
Publisher: Wiener Slawistisches Jahrbuch
Publication date: 2007
Number of pages: 26
Format: PDF / excellent
Size: 309 KB

Modals in contemporary Slovene
‘Modals’ are defined as more or less grammaticalized expressions of necessity, possibility and volition
which form categories with fuzzy boundaries. In this paper, we will describe the class of modals and
adjacent elements in contemporary Slovene based on grammaticalization theory. The paper contains
lexicographic portraits including a semantic and a syntactic analysis of the relevant elements in Slovene:
lahko, moči, utegniti, morati and treba. Apart from that, we discuss two elements at the periphery of the
category (smet and naj). The analysis also takes data from other Slavonic languages into account, mainly
from Russian, Serbian/Croatian and Polish, and shows the peculiarities of the Slovene modal system.
1. Modals as a fuzzy cross-linguistic category
2. Current state of research
3. Modals in Slovene
3.1 Possibility: modals
3.1.1 LAHKO
Syntactic structure of the modal : NNominative + AUXmodal + Vfinite
o lahko 1a ‘capability’
o lahko 1b ‘objective possibility’
o lahko 1c ‘permission’
o lahko 2 ‘medium probability’
o lahko 3 ‘concessive marker’
o lahko 4 ‘lightly, easily’ (pre-modal meaning) Adv + V
3.1.2 MOČI
Structure NNominative + AUXmodal + Vinfinitive
o moči 1a ‘capability’
o moči 1b ‘objective possibility’
o moči 2 ‘medium probability’
Structure NNominative + AUXmodal + Vinfinitive
o utegniti 1 ‘to be able to do sth because of availability of time’
3.2 Possibility: semi-modal SMETI
Structure NNominative + AUXModal + VInfinitive
o smeti ‘permission’
3.3 Necessity: modals
3.3.1 MORATI
Structure NNominative + AUXmodal + Vinfinitive
o morati 1a ‘objective necessity ’
o morati 1b ‘inner necessity’
o morati 1c ‘obligation’
o morati 2 ‘high probability’
3.3.2 TREBA
Structure of the modal NNull/NDative + AUXMod + VInfinitive
o treba 1a ‘objective necessity’
o treba 1b ‘obligation’
3.4. Necessity: semi-modal NAJ
Structure NNominative + AUXmodal + Vfinite
o naj 1 ‘uttered weak obligation’
o naj 2 ‘hear-say’
o naj 3 ‘thought intention’
o naj 4 ‘marker for conditional’
o various other functions
4. Conclusion
Overview table
Carolin Firouzeh Roeder, B.A., MIREES / Istituto per l’Europa Centro-Orientale e
Balcanica – Università di Bologna, Via Marchesi 12, 47100 Forlì, Italy,
Prof. Dr. Björn Hansen, Institut für Slavistik, Universität Regensburg, Universitätsstraße
31, 93053 Regensburg, Germany,


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