Vol. 2:1 (2009) ► pp.18–47
‘I wouldn’t think you might agree’
(Inter)subjective uses of English modalised syntactic patterns
This study concerns objectivity, subjectivity and intersubjectivity in relation to the English central modal verbs. In order to refine the (inter)subjective status of modals from a synchronic perspective, it focuses on their possible uses within a specific communicative context where the SP/W needs to ‘modulate’ his/her own and/or other people’s point of view. A qualitative and quantitative corpus-based analysis has been carried out on the syntactic pattern Subject + Modal Verb + Mental Verb, to check whether and to what extent (inter)subjectivity occurs in the written medium. By means of a semantic-pragmatic analysis of the central modals within the selected pattern, a wide range of communicative strategies has been observed. Four main aims have been identified that the SP/W may have in mind when choosing to resort to (inter)subjectivity: namely, the expression of the SP/W’s point of view (EPV), the shaping of the AD/R’s line of reasoning (SLR), the imposition of the SP/W’s power on the AD/R (IP), and the communication of information (CI).