Edited by Hans Lindquist and Christian Mair
[Studies in Corpus Linguistics 13] 2004
► pp. 57–78
The semantic path from modality to aspect
be able to in a cross-linguistic perspective
Ability has a number of lexical sources including dynamic, telic verbs of various sorts. For example, manage to, a verb implying that there were difficulties to overcome can come to mean ‘ability’, a development which has parallels in other languages. In this paper translations into Swedish are used as a window to show that can, be able to and manage to are closely related to each other. It is argued that in grammaticalisation studies of modality one has paid a lot of attention to ‘ability’ as a source for deontic and epistemic meanings but neglected its relevance as a source for the development to an aktionsart meaning associated with actuality and result.
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