EXPLORING MODAL VERBS CONVEYING POSSIBILITY IN ACADEMIC DISCOURSE

Petra Huschová

Abstract

This paper explores the occurrence and use of the English modal verbs CAN/COULD and MAY/MIGHT conveying possibility meanings in academic texts dealing with linguistics and attempts to reveal the contextual factors determining the interpretation of the verbs. The paper discusses the semantic components of the examined modal verbs in relation to syntactic co-occurrence patterns and stylistic variation, focusing on the factors governing the distribution and usage of their epistemic and root possibility readings. Finally, the paper comments on the possibility readings of CAN/COULD and MAY/MIGHT which can be employed as hedging devices.

Keywords

CAN/COULD; MAY/MIGHT; epistemic possibility; root possibility; academic discourse; hedging

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https://doi.org/10.5817/DI2015-2-35


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