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Evidentiality and Modality in European Languages

Discourse-pragmatic perspectives


Edited By Juana I. Marín-Arrese, Julia Lavid-López, Marta Carretero, Elena Domínguez Romero, Mª Victoria Martín de la Rosa and María Pérez Blanco

Evidentiality and Modality in European Languages focuses on discourse-pragmatic studies on the domains of evidentiality and epistemic modality, and also includes studies on deontic modality. The book presents ground-breaking research on the functions and the discourse-pragmatic variation of evidential expressions and modals in diverse discourses and genres, applying corpus-based methodologies. It offers unique features regarding content, usage and methodology, and comparative studies. The comparative viewpoint is addressed in contributions which provide a usage-based cross-linguistic account of the expression of evidentiality and modality in various European languages (English, French, Italian, Romanian and Spanish). The contributions are representative of the work on evidentiality and modality in European languages carried out in a substantial number of countries, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Romania, Spain and Sweden.

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Expressing Necessity in Spanish: the Case of "Deber" ‘Must’ and "Tener que" ‘Have to’ (Miriam Thegel)


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Expressing Necessity in Spanish: the Case of Deber ‘Must’ and Tener que ‘Have to’1

Abstract: This paper offers a new perspective on the Spanish modal verbs deber and tener que, relating them to the notions of (inter)subjectivity and speaker-orientation. In the literature on these verbs there is a tendency to give only vague descriptions of their nature, usually concluding that tener que expresses a strong, external necessity, whereas deber is used to convey a weak, internal necessity. In this study, a more thorough comparison has been made, taking into account four classificatory variables when looking at the differences between the verbs, namely, tense, grammatical person, diathesis and the source of the necessity. The results confirm statistically significant differences in distribution between deber and tener que for all four variables. For example, it is shown that tener que usually occurs when the speaker is presented as the source of the necessity, while deber to a higher extent appears in impersonal contexts, where passive constructions or/and third person are interpreted as expressions of a general norm. This leads to the conclusion that tener que can be classified as a subjective verb, oriented towards the speaker and his/her opinion, while deber is to be understood as an intersubjective verb, which frequently expresses a shared attitude regarding the necessity.

Keywords: deontic modality – Spanish modal verbs – subjectivity – intersubjectivity – speaker-orientation – tense – grammatical person – diathesis – source of the necessity


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