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Cambridge University Press
Expected online publication date:
September 2024
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Book description

Modality – the ways in which language can express grades of reality or truth – is the subject of a vast and long-established body of research. In this book, field-leader Jan Nuyts brings together twenty years of his research to offer a comprehensive, fully integrated view on areas of contentious debate within modality, from a functional and cognitive perspective. The book provides an empirically grounded, conceptual reanalysis of modality and related categories including evidentiality, volition, intention, directivity, subjectivity and mirativity. It argues for the dissolution of the category of modality and for an alternative division of the wider field of semantic notions at stake. The analysis also reflects on how to model the language faculty, and on the issue of language and thought. It is essential reading for researchers interested in the semantics of modality and in the implications of this domain for understanding the cognitive infrastructure for language and thought.


‘Much research notwithstanding, modality remains a murky field. This book creates order out of the chaos of notions traditionally regarded as modal and of associated concepts, through a systematic analysis relative to a conceptual qualificational hierarchy. It is a must-read for anyone interested in tense-aspect-mood, functional linguistics and the relationship between language and cognition.’

Daniel Van Olmen - Associate Professor, Lancaster University

‘This book is the culmination of several decades of work on modality, a category the author first deconstructs and then reconstructs on a more principled basis. It is a must-read for anyone with a serious interest in the study of modality and related domains. At the same time, the book uses the analysis of modality to reflect on what a cognitive-functional approach to language really entails.’

Jean-Christophe Verstraete - Professor of Linguistics, University of Leuven


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