A Context-sensitive and Functional Approach to Evidentiality in Spanish or Why Evidentiality needs a Superordinate Category
6 A context-sensitive and functional approach to the use of the Spanish modal verbs poder and deber
The English modals have been described from different perspectives and within a whole series of different theoretical frameworks and can probably be considered as one of the best studied language categories overall (de Haan/Hansen 2009: 1). With their collected volume on modals Haan/Hansen would have had the chance to provide a study of the modals of languages other than English with all its fac- ets and meaning nuances. But unfortunately, they explain: […] we understand modality in a narrow sense as comprising exclusively the mean- ings ‘necessity’, ‘obligation’, ‘possibility’, ‘permission’, and ‘volition’. […] We shall […] exclude all types of evidential markers. Whereas modal meanings like possibility and necessity refer to the commitment of the speaker to the truth of what he/she is saying, evidentiality refers to the source of evidence the speaker has for his statement […] (de Haan/Hansen 2009: 3). So this implies that their starting point is the semantic category of modality as such. Adopting a function-to-form approach they look at which modals repre- sent which modal meanings. If they had combined a function-to-form approach with a form-to-function approach, it would have helped the modals of others languages to be as ‘equally well’ studied as the English ones. Cornillie/De Mulder/Van Hecke/Vermandere (2009) treat “Modals in Ro- mance languages”, that is, in French, Italian, Spanish and Romanian, but re- stricting their work to the analysis of modals expressing ‘necessity’ and ‘obliga- tion’, that is, to the Romance equivalents of English must and its synonyms (cf. Cornillie/De Mulder/Van Hecke/Vermandere 2009: 107). But Cornillie...
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