deontic "will"

Mirjam Fried mirjam at FRIED.NET
Wed Aug 8 19:13:47 UTC 2001

Colloquial Czech has a commonly used construction of the general shape
 non-referential IT + wants + X ], where X can be an infinitive, deverbal
noun, or a noun phrase. As for the infinitival complement, the verb can be
either transitive (typically with its own complements) or intransitive. And
the verb *chtit* 'want' can be in present, future, less commonly past, and
also commonly in a conditional form. The general meaning of the construction
is something like 'one should/has to/ will have to/etc. do X', and the
pragmatic condition seems to be that it is used when something needs

1. To chce koupit novou pracku. 'One will have to buy a new washing
machine.'   (trans. V with complement)
    IT wants buyINF newACC washingmachineACC

2. To chce vymalovat.   'A paint job is needed.'        (trans. V without

3. To chce pravidelne plavat.   'One ought to swim regularly.'  (intrans.)

4. To chce novou pracku.        'A new washing machine is needed.'      (NP)

It is much less common, I think, to find a referential NP instead of IT, but
it is possible. When the subject is a real referent, the verb that's used is
*potrebovat* 'need':

5. Tahle kosile potrebuje vyprat.       'This shirt needs washing' (lit. 'to

Mirjam Fried

Dept. of Slavic Languages and Literatures
Clio Hall
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544
email: mirjam at

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