High-level modal metonymies in English and SpanishReport as inadecuate

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Linguistics, Vol.4 No.1 September 2003. -

has been brought to the fore in recent works by Thornburg and Panther

1997, Panther and Thornburg 1999, Radden and Kövecses 1999,

Ruiz de Mendoza and Pérez 2001, and Ruiz de Mendoza and Otal

2002 among others, where the authors analyze the grammatical import

of high-level or generic metonymies. This paper explores the

metonymic basis of several expressions of modality in English and

Spanish. More specifically, we focus on two types of metonymic mapping:


Thornburg and Panther 1997, which underlies the understanding of

expressions like I must go, where the modal verb is used to express an

obligation that comes from the speaker; and ii POTENTIALITY FOR

ACTUALITY, which motivates English expressions such as I can see the

Thames from my window ‘I see the Thames from my window’ or I

can hear well ‘I hear well’. We have observed that both metonymies

are productive in Spanish as well, but their exploitation in this language

is subject to certain peculiarities. On the one hand, Spanish is sensitive

only to the POTENTIALITY FOR ACTUALITY metonymy in those cases in

which a verb carrying a commissive element is involved. On the other

hand, regarding the OBLIGATION FOR DESIRE mapping, there is a clear

asymmetry between Spanish and English. An example like I must speak

to you, please is better rendered into Spanish as Tengo que hablar contigo,

por favor ‘I have to speak to you, please’. In this sentence, the Spanish modal expression tener que is only formally equivalent to the

English modal have to, but unlike its English counterpart it conveys internal

or self-imposed obligation. Finally, we note that, in the domain

of epistemic modality, meaning shifts from probability to usuality, and

we argue for a non-metonymic implicational correlation between these

two modality scales both in English and Spanish.

high-level metonymy; deontic modality; epistemic modality; potentiality; motivation; cross-linguistic analysis

Author: Francisco José Ruiz de Mendoza Ibáñez - orcid.org-0000-0002-1200-2850 ; Universidad de La Rioja, Logroño, Departamento de Fil

Source: http://hrcak.srce.hr/


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