We are happy to announce a talk by Kathryn Barnes. Please find an abstract below.
Title: Modals in Malay
Room: IG 4.301
Date: October 31
Time: 4pm – 6pm
Crosslinguistic research into modal systems outside of Europe has revealed systematic variation in how modal force, strength and flavour are grammaticalised in different languages. This talk aims to give an initial analysis of the grammaticalisation of these features in modality in Malay, looking specifically at the necessity modals mesti (must) and perlu (need). The data collected through semantic fieldwork with speakers of Malay found that the modals display previously observed behaviour with regard to flavour; mesti varies between epistemic and root modal flavour, with perlu being restricted to root modality. However, both modals vary between weak and strong necessity readings and their root readings are also gradable, with perlu consistently being stronger than mesti. The use of a degree-based analysis of necessity modals, initially put forward by Portner & Rubinstein (2016), to interpret mesti and perlu highlights how these observations challenge the traditional quantificational view of modality and particularly the generally assumed binary opposition between necessity and possibility. Overall, this research into Malay demonstrates how further crosslinguistic investigation into modality may contribute to understanding how standard theories need to be adapted to account for such variations.