Irrealis and the Subjunctive
This paper suggest that in order to understand the cross-language distribution of the subjunctive mood one needs to understand the cross-grammar distribution of the irrealis modality, as well as have a general theory of modality, within which irrealis takes its rightful natural place. The subjunctive mood turns out to occupy two coherent sub regions within irrealis: (a) the subjunctive of lower certainty (within the epistemic sub-mode of irrealis), and (b) the subjunctive of weaker manipulation (within the deontic sub-mode of irrealis). A grammaticalized subjunctive may take the same form in both sub-modes (as in Romance), or two distinct forms (as in some Bantu languages). The paper also investigates the diachronic pathways of grammaticalization through which various subjunctive patterns arise, showing that analogical extension patterns exist in both directions — from deontic to epistemic and vice versa. The interaction between grammaticalization patterns and functional universals is also discussed.
Published online: 01 January 1994
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