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Chapitre D'ouvrage Année : 2002

On the Modal Meanings of the Subjunctive in Hindi


The paper deals with the modal meanings of the Hindi subjunctive in the light of an overall picture of the Hindi verbal predicate. It argues that modal meanings are the speaker's meaning which may or may not be grammaticalized, and therefore it is difficult to provide a full picture of modal meanings of the subjunctive in syntactic terms only. Furthermore, the paper establishes that the Hindi subjunctive is employed by the speaker to express both epistemic and deontic possibilities rather than epistemic and deontic necessities. ■1. INTRODUCTION In the present paper we make an attempt to analyze various kinds of modal meanings expressed through the subjunctive verbal predicates in Hindi. 1 In doing so, we will be concerned mainly with the epistemic and deontic aspects of the subjunctive forms of the Hindi verb and will not investigate in any detail their possible syntactic characterizations. In order to establish modal meanings of the subjunctive verbal predicate, we shall try to see it in the light of an overall picture of other verbal predicates which express either epistemic necessity and possibility, or deontic necessity and possibility. The paper seeks to establish that the modal meanings in natural languages are expressed at different levels of the utterance and therefore can be studied from different perspectives, i.e. from the point of view of the speaker, from the point of view of the person referred to, or, in the case of reported speech, from the point of view of the speaker referred to in the utterance. The present study, however, concerns modality expressed at the level of sentence only and does not take into consideration modality which is related to the persons mentioned or referred to in the utterance. In accordance with the functions of the subjunctive in many languages of the world, the Hindi subjunctive is used by the speaker to express meanings relating to modal possibilities rather than to express modal necessities which are generally conveyed by the Hindi indicatives. Furthermore, the paper claims that in Hindi this dual distinction between possibility and necessity can be found at the level of deontic modality as well. A speaker can, for example, ask his addressee to carry out an action x either necessarily or possibly. In the former case, the speaker issues a command through an imperative, asking the addressee to carry out the task necessarily, whereas, in the latter, the speaker gives the addressee the possibility of non-compliance with the command. Such meanings are articulated by polite commands made with the subjunctive.
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Dates et versions

hal-01386177 , version 1 (23-10-2016)


  • HAL Id : hal-01386177 , version 1


Ghanshyam Sharma. On the Modal Meanings of the Subjunctive in Hindi. Rajendra Singh. The Yearbook of South Asian Languages and Linguistics, Mouton de Gruyter 2002, 3-11-017580-0; ISSN 0971-9539. ⟨hal-01386177⟩
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