Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Language Arts & Disciplines General

Modality Across Syntactic Categories

edited by Ana Arregui, Maria Luisa Rivero & Andres Salanova

Oxford University Press
Initial publish date
Dec 2019
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2017
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Dec 2019
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


This volume explores the linguistic expression of modality in natural language from a cross-linguistic perspective. Modal expressions provide the basic tools that allow us to dissociate what we say from what is actually going on, allowing us to talk about what might happen or might have happened, as well as what is required, desirable, or permitted.

Chapters in the book demonstrate that modality involves many more syntactic categories and levels of syntactic structure than traditionally assumed. The volume distinguishes between three types of modality: "low modality", which concerns modal interpretations associated with the verbal and nominal cartographies in syntax; "middle modality", or modal interpretation associated with the syntactic cartography internal to the clause; and "high modality", relating to the left periphery. It combines cross-linguistic discussions of the more widely studied sources of modality with analyses of novel or unexpected sources, and shows how the meanings associated with the three types of modality are realized across a wide range of languages.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

Ana Arregui is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Ottawa. Her research is in the domain of natural language semantics, focusing on modality, tense, and aspect. Her publications include articles in Natural Language Semantics, Journal of Semantics, and Linguistics and Philosophy. She holds a Licenciatura en Letras from the University of Buenos Aires and a Ph.D in Linguistics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Maria Luisa Rivero is Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at the University of Ottawa, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Her research has focused on syntax and semantics, most recently paying particular attention to aspect, modality, and tense, with emphasis on languages of the Romance and Slavic families and those of the Balkan peninsula.

Andres Salanova is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Ottawa. His research has concentrated on the structure of Mebengokre, a Je language spoken in central Brazil, and his publications have looked at topics ranging from phonology to the semantics of aspect in that language. He has conducted field research in central Brazil since 1996, and is more broadly interested in the history and ethnography of the South American lowlands.