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Journal Articles Constructions and Frames Year : 2016

Modal meaning in Construction Grammar

Bert Cappelle


Within the framework of Construction Grammar, modality remains a rather underexplored linguistic domain. This observation led to the organization of a workshop on modal meaning in Construction Grammar at ISLE 3, the third conference of the International Society for the Linguistics of English, held in Zürich in 2014. While attempts to analyse modal (and/or future) auxiliaries from this theoretical perspective are relatively scare, they are definitely not non-existent, and we could mention at least work by Bergs (2010), Boogaart (2009), Cappelle and Depraetere (2013), Cappelle and De Sutter (2010), Diewald (2006), Diewald and Smirnova (2011a, 2011b), Goldberg and Van der Auwera (2012), Hilpert (2008, 2013a, 2013b), Mortelmans (2000) and Wärnsby (2002). Boogaart and Fortuin (2016) provides a succinct general treatment of the subject and an overview of the literature. For the ISLE 3 workshop, we invited some of the authors who had analysed facets of modal meaning from the point of view of Construction Grammar, including those who were critical of its potential. We asked the speakers to look back and forward: five to ten years later, what was their view on the ways in which Construction Grammar could push the analysis of modal meaning further ahead? Likewise, we were interested to find out what Construction Grammar could gain from available analyses of modal meaning. The debate was enlightening and we decided to share the views put forward with the wider community. Each of the papers in this thematic issue addresses one or several of the following questions: (a) Is Construction Grammar, with its holistic approach in terms of form-function pairings, suitable for the analysis of modal meaning in general and modal verbs in particular, which typically involve meaning in context? How can the pragmatics of modals be captured in this model? And if there is a way to do so, what can be gained from this endeavour, that is, how can the analysis of modals be improved? (b) Do ‘modal constructions’ (constructions with modals) exist? If so, how can we identify them (and their development) empirically? And how can constructional meaning be represented or formalized? (c) What does the analysis of modal meaning teach us about constructions? What can Construction Grammar gain from the analysis of modality?
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hal-01495697 , version 1 (26-03-2017)



Bert Cappelle, Ilse Depraetere. Modal meaning in Construction Grammar. Constructions and Frames, 2016, Modal meaning in Construction Grammar, 8 (1), pp.1-6. ⟨10.1075/cf.8.1.01cap⟩. ⟨hal-01495697⟩
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