Another look at modals and subjectivity

Jelena Timotijevic

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


The term subjectivity has been used in several different ways in studies of modality. This paper argues for a new treatment of the notion of subjectivity in the analysis of English modals. We give a brief survey of different approaches to subjectivity in the literature on English modals, where we also examine how subjectivity has been applied to modality in German. We argue that the concept of subjectivity should be linked to the relationship between semantics and pragmatics in the interpretation of modals. We propose that uses of modals should be called subjective if they involve primary pragmatic processes as argued by Recanati (2004). Further, we will argue that the relationship is not the same for all modals, but varies for each modal.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationModality in English Theory and Description
EditorsRaphael Salkie, Pierre Busuttil, Johan Van der Auwera
Place of PublicationBerlin, Germany
PublisherMouton de Gruyter
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9783110196344
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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