epistemic modality

Peter Arkadiev peterarkadiev at YANDEX.RU
Thu Jun 12 13:05:22 UTC 2014

Dear typologists,

I was wondering whether there are good descriptions and typological and theoretical discussion of systems of expression of epistemic modality where there is no conventionalized distinction between epistemic possibility (John might have come home already) and epistemic necessity (John must have come home already). Such systems have been reported for some Salish languages (e.g. St’át’imcets, see e.g. Henry Davis et al. Modals as distributive indefinites. Natural Language Semantics, Vol. 16 (2008), pp. 317–357), but I was wondering whether this can be found elsewhere. I am also interested in situations where alongside two dedicated forms or constructions for epistemic necessity and epistemic possibility, respectively, there exists a general underspecified form or construction occurring in both types of contexts. It appears that some dialects of Circassian might present such a system, but more research is needed.

Thank you very much in advance!


Peter Arkadiev, PhD
Institute of Slavic Studies
Russian Academy of Sciences 
Leninsky prospekt 32-A 119334 Moscow
peterarkadiev at yandex.ru

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