Modality


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Modality

 

in linguistics, a conceptual category expressing the purposefulness of speech, the relationship of a speaker to the content of his utterance, and the relationship of the content of the utterance to reality.

Modality may signify affirmation, command, desire, permission, truth, and unreality. It is expressed by various grammatical and lexical means: modal verbs (“may,” “should”; German sollen, konnen, wollen), other modal words (“perhaps,” “likely”), and intonational means. Different languages express the various meanings of modality in different ways. For example, English expresses the modality of unreality by means of a special conjugation, the subjunctive II (“If you had come in time, we would have been able to catch the train”). In Yagnobi, the forms of the present-future tense can have the modal nuances of indirect command, permission, invitation to action, and intention of doing something.


Modality

 

the mode of existence of some object or the mode of duration of some phenomenon (ontological modality) or the way of understanding or drawing conclusions about an object, phenomenon, or event (epistemological or logical modality).

The concept of modality, which goes back to Aristotle, was later used in classical philosophical systems. The words (terms) expressing different modal concepts are the object of linguistic study. The distinction between propositions according to modality, elaborated in classical logic by the students and commentators of Aristotle (such as Theophrastus and Eudemus of Rhodes), was further defined by the medieval Scholastics.

In modern logic and philosophy, I. Kant’s division of propositions into assertoric (judgments about reality), apodictic (judgments of necessity), and problematic (judgments of possibility) has become traditional. The generally accepted derivation of the proposition “A occurs” from “A is necessary” and the proposition “A is possible” from “A occurs” has become the foundation of work on modality in contemporary formal (mathematical) logic. Modalities pertaining to propositions or predicates are known as alethic, while modalities pertaining to words expressing actions and acts are called deontic.

Modalities are further divided into “absolute” and “relative,” according to the usual meaning of these terms. In contemporary modal logic and logical semantics, modality is also sometimes understood to include the concepts “true” and “false,” as well as “provable,” “unprovable,” and “refutable.”

IU. A. GASTEV

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The title of the dissertation was "The Modality of the Verbal Infinitive Absolute in Biblical Hebrew," which is worth noting if only because the title of the published volume is more accurate: this book is as much a study of modality in Biblical Hebrew as it is of the infinitive absolute.
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I have used only written material, leaving out the features of spoken language, such as intonation and gestures, which might otherwise help to understand the modality of a certain expression.
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The classic articulation of Quine's skepticism about de re modalizing is his Reference and Modality argument against the semantic and metaphysical coherence of de re modal predication.
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