deontic "will"

Enrique L. Palancar Vizcaya epalancar at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 9 00:21:27 UTC 2001

Dear Joan,

To what you say,

>This discussion is interesting because it is not unusual for a verb
> >meaning 'need' to change its meaning to one of volition. This is the
> >case for English _want_, so that the usage below is an older meaning >of
>_want_ . But cases of a volitional verb (such as Spanish _querer_)
> >developing a meaning of deontic necessity had not surfaced before in >the
>data I had examined. The cautionary note I want to raise is that >if a
>volitional verb has a deontic use, it could be an earlier use >being
>retained, not a new development.

I agree with Volker that Spanish has this deontic meaning of "querer" which
may present a different degree of productivity across dialects. I believe
the deonticity of the verb is still not part of the semantics of the form,
but still of the pragmatics of the situation in which it is said, if I say
to some person in her office,

"Martha, esta planta quiere agua"
'Martha, this plant wants water

I am indirectly impliying that I believe the state of affairs with the plant
is so that I think it definitely needs some watering, and I am suggesting by
saying so that Martha does it. At first I believe it apply to animate
entitiies construed as having some chance to desire something, but it can
extendedly use it to other entities, such as:

"Martha, esta casa quiere una pintadita"
'Martha, this house wants a little painting"

Where I am again idirectly suggesting to my addresse that she should be
painting her house for the state the house is in is rather bad. As I said to
Volker, it is more natural to construct such predications with the verb
"necesitar" 'need', in other areas but not Chiapas, presumably, but the
examples I have given you sound natural to any speaker of Spanish, I
presume, it is definitely true for Peninsular and Mexican.

As for your cautionary note that "if a volitional verb has a deontic use, it
could be an earlier use being retained, not a new development". This is not
the case of Spanish "

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