IJLLL 2019 Vol.5(4): 263-268 ISSN: 2382-6282
DOI: 10.18178/IJLLL.2019.5.4.239

A Syntactic and Semantic Contrast Study of Modal Expressions across Languages

Xiong Wen
Abstract—In terms of linguistic typology, Chinese, English, Korean and Japanese belong to different families (Slobin, 1985; Norman, 1988; Croft, 1990; etc). How to express modality has always been a controversial topic. In regard to how to express modality, Palmer (2001, p 4) points out that there are two ways in which languages deal grammatically with the overall category of modality: the modal system and mood. Both may occur within a single language. In most languages, however, only one of these devices seems to occur or, at least, one is much more salient than the other. Although Chinese and English mainly use modal verbs, there is also a rich modality auxiliary system in Chinese, while Korean and Japanese mainly use adhesive verbs and auxiliary words to express modality. This paper takes the Chinese modal verbs (CAN group) as the representative and carries out comprehensive syntactic and semantic comparison with the counterpart modal verbs in English, and the counterpart modal expressions in Korea and Japanese. This study describes how the languages of different types express modality in different ways. The results of the study have linguistic implications for learners of Chinese who are from different first languages. It is pointed out that because the expression of modality involves subjective judgments of using language, the syntactic and semantics contrast only reveals the linguistic dimensions of the language uses.

Index Terms—Modal expression, language contrast, Chinese and English, Chinese and Korean, Chinese and Japanese.

The author is with Winston Salem State University, USA (e-mail: wenxionguri@gmail.com).

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Cite: Xiong Wen, "A Syntactic and Semantic Contrast Study of Modal Expressions across Languages," International Journal of Languages, Literature and Linguistics vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 263-268, 2019.

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