MODAL QUESTIONNAIRE for CROSS-LINGUISTIC USE
Modality is a category of meaning that concerns two dimensions: modal force and modal flavor.
The dimension of modal force concerns whether a modal marker expresses possibility
or necessity, or somewhere in between, such as so-called ‘weak necessity’ modals.
In English, some examples of possibility modals are might, may, can; necessity modals
must, have to; weak necessity modals should, ought to. The dimension of
modal flavor concerns what type of interpretation a modal marker can express.
For instance, epistemic modal flavor is compatible with possible or necessary conclusions
drawn from a particular body of knowledge; deontic modal flavor is compatible with a body
of rules or regulations; circumstantial modal flavor is compatible with particular facts
about the world. Other types of modal flavor include bouletic modal flavor, which is compatible
with someone’s desires or wishes; and teleological modal flavor, which is compatible
with someone’s goals.
This questionnaire is designed to be a cross-linguistic fieldwork tool to help establish a modal
system in a given language and investigate the lexical specification of modal expressions.
This questionnaire specifically addresses the questions: Does a given modal expression lexically
specify both modal force and modal flavour? for only modal force? for only modal flavour? for neither
modal force or modal flavour? Modal expressions in natural language seem to vary along these two
dimensions, but the cross-linguistic parameters or potential restrictions of such variation are
Jozina Vander Klok