An Alternative Analysis of Marginal Modals

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Language Use and Linguistic Structure, Vol: 3, Page: 87-98

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Machová, Dagmar
Univerzita Palackého v Olomouci
marginal modals; agreement; operator properties; polyfunctionality; functional category
conference paper description
The paper analyzes marginal modal elements in English from the perspective of their morphological, syntactic, and semantic properties. More precisely, it presents the hypothesis that the status of central modal verbs is related to three properties - a modal polyfunctionality, the absence of agreement, and operator properties. The paper divides structures traditionally labelled as marginal modals into operator and non-operator elements. In terms of operator elements such as need, dare, ought, and shall, it shows how the polyfunctionality, agreement, and syntactic properties are interrelated and result in the idiosyncratic behavior of each individual member. With non-operator elements such as be going, have got to, and want, the paper illustrates that polyfunctionality may trigger the development towards operator behavior by the formation of non-agreeing structures such as gonna, wanna, and gotta.