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The Pragmatics of Modals in Shakespeare


Minako Nakayasu

Modals and related phenomena are without doubt one of the most complicated issues in the grammar of language. This study provides a reappraisal of the modals in Shakespeare’s language from the pragmatic viewpoint, both micropragmatic and macropragmatic. The material selected for analysis are modals SHALL, SHOULD, WILL, WOULD, and their contracted forms. Micropragmatic aspects such as speech acts seem relatively easily accessible to historical researchers; however, this study moves further into the macropragmatic dimensions of language use than the earlier ones and covers politeness, dialogue, and discourse analysis.
Contents: Theoretical and methodological preliminaries – Earlier research on modals in Early Modern English – Shakespeare’s English – SHALL/SHOULD – WILL/WOULD – Toward a macropragmatic analysis of modals – Contracted forms.