Edited by Johan van der Auwera and Patrick Dendale
[Belgian Journal of Linguistics 14] 2000
► pp. 1–22
Metonymy and Metaphor in the Evolution of Modal Verbs
Evidence from Italo-Romance
Abstract. The semantic development of the Italo-Romance outcomes of habeo (plus particle) and infinitive does not involve any dramatic changes. The earliest attestations of Sardinian áere a already express prototypical futurity (alongside deontic modality). On the other hand, a number of minimal changes are observed in other varieties. Sicilian aviri a comes to denote subjective epistemic modality and a few postmodal meanings, whilst the periphrasis with da has only extended to epistemic contexts in modern Tuscan. The evolution of the Sicilian structure involves the obliteration of prominent aspects of meaning (metonymy), whereas the development of Tuscan avere da is characterized by a change of domain (metaphor). Metonymy and metaphor, however, might be side-effects of independently motivated changes, which are observed a posteriori. The diachronic findings presented in this work combine easily with the view of unidirectionality proposed by van der Auwera and Plungian (1998).