Edited by Philippe De Brabanter and Patrick Dendale
[Belgian Journal of Linguistics 22] 2008
► pp. 15–36
This paper presents a semantic treatment of the modal uses of the future tense and the conditional in French and a comparison with their English translations. It is argued that the future and the conditional convey the speaker’s commitment and non-commitment respectively, regardless of how information has been obtained and irrespective of whether this information has been verified or not. Commitment and non-commitment are defined as modes of enunciation depending on how the speaker treats and possibly eliminates representations other than her own representation. The modal meaning of the uses under discussion is shown to derive from a mode of mixed enunciation, which either modulates assertion in the case of commitment or suspends it in the case of noncommitment. In English, this difference is not grammaticalised in the verb system. For example, the modal must may be regarded as an equivalent for both the epistemic conditional and the modal future.
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