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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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Modal Adverbs and Discourse Context: the Case of "Doubtless, No Doubt," and "Undoubtedly" (Daisuke Suzuki / Takashi Fujiwara)


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Modal Adverbs and Discourse Context: the Case of Doubtless, No Doubt, and Undoubtedly1

Abstract: This study examines whether three apparently synonymous modal adverbs -doubtless, no doubt, and undoubtedly- can be considered as such by inspecting their contexts of use. As is well-known, these expressions convey a speaker’s judgment about the probability of a proposition. For this purpose, we employ an experimental technique and the manual analysis of the British National Corpus (BNC). Two contextual factors associated with discourse are analyzed: (i) in which of three positions they occur most often in a clause (i.e., initial, medial, or final), and (ii) whether the subjects of the clauses in which they appear tend to be pronouns or full noun phrases (NP). Based on the analysis of these two types of data, two important implications follow. First, a closer association of no doubt with pronouns and in the initial position reveals that no doubt has a preference for the discourse-related use. Second, the contextual difference among the three adverbs indicates that they show distinctions at the discourse-pragmatic level.

Keywords: English modal adverbs – synonyms – functional analysis – corpus-based studies – questionnaire studies – position – subject type – discourse


Synonymy is one of the best-known semantic relations between lexical items. The word “synonym” customarily denotes paired items that either share a meaning or convey very similar meanings. However, in terms of language function and use, it is impossible for...

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