Number and Mood

Wed Apr 22 05:33:17 UTC 1998

Dear colleagues,

In response to Hideaki's interesting posting on Japanese
in the "quantification and modality" thread:

Unfortunately I'm a few thousand miles away from my
Japanese reference grammars, but wouldn't it be
appropriate to say that the basic or primary function
of both the markers that he cites, "mo" and "ka",
is that of "focus markers" or "conjunctive operators"?
As I recall, in addition to the usages cited in Hideaki's
posting, "mo" has many uses corresponding to
English "and" / "also", while "ka" often corresponds
to English "or".  Depending on your definition of
modality, such markers might be considered as being
inherently modal.  And as many people (Ekkehard Konig,
Martin Haspelmath, and myself) have noted, such markers
often acquire quantificational usages as well.  To cite
just a couple of examples:

In Singaporean English, "also" has the same usages as
in British / American English, plus additional ones,
including the formation of quantificational expressions
such as "which ... also" for British / American English
"any".  (The Singlish usages are obvious calques on
similar usages in southern Chinese languages, involving
the markers cognate with Mandarin "ye" and "dou".)

And in Hungarian, "mind" is used, inter alia, as a kind
 of "emphatic conjunction", in constructions of the form
"mind X mind Y" for "both X and Y", and -- with adjectival
suffix "-en" -- as the distributive universal quantifier
"minden" or "every".

To return to Juergen's original query regarding
number and modality:  it would probably be
true to say that there are several quite distinct
"natural paths" which, in different languages, might
connect the two domains.  Focus (or conjunctive)
operators would provide one such path; reduplication
(as I pointed out in an earlier posting on Riau Indonesian),
with its at least partly iconic effects, another;
and presumably there are yet others.

David Gil
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

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