deontic "will"

Volker Gast gast at ZEDAT.FU-BERLIN.DE
Mon Aug 6 07:35:10 UTC 2001

A sub-standard variety of Mexican Spanish spoken in Southern Mexico
(Chiapas) has exactly the same construction:

(1) Este carro quiere lavado. "This car has to be washed."
(2) Quiere que vayas tu mismo. "You have to go yourself."

In all likeliness, this construction is copied either from Tzotzil
(Mayan) or from Zoque (Mixe-Zoque), both of which regularly use
the verb "k'an" (to want, love) to express deontic modality:

(3) Sk'an ti cha'abteje ('You have to work', lit. 'It wants that you
(4) Sk'an jtijtik ti jbintike. ('We have to beat our drums', lit. 'It
wants we beat our pots')

As far as I know, Tzotzil also has the construction "k'an + passive
participle" (like in your Sardinian example "La casa vuole pagata"), but I
would have to look at my corpus in order to find some examples.


(5) Shunba wa'y mangu tyu'nisu. ('He has to go and see her', lit.'It wants
that go(aux) he sees her')
(from Harrison et al. (1981: 156), Diccionario Zoque de Copainalá, ILV.) 

Volker Gast
FU Berlin
Institut für Englische Philologie
Goßlerstraße 2-4
14195 Berlin

Tel.: 030/838 72314

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