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Some Features And Uses Of Modal Verbs In Shakespeare's Language According Kakietek

1040 words - 4 pages

Kakietek's study is the first attempt to provide a systematic and exhaustive description of the modal verbs in the language of Shakespeare. "He points out that the existing literature on the subject is appallingly poor and does not actually present any real value from the linguistic points of view" (P.Kakietek, 'Modal Verbs in Shakespeare's English Poznam, 1972, pag.3).The publication he lists contains nearly all the currently available concerning the problem: E. A. Abbott, "A Shakesperian Grammar", 1925,pag 210-234; W. Franz, "Die Sprache Shakespeare", 1948, pag.174-180 e pag.475-502;Frieden "Studies on the Tenses of the English Verb from Chaucer to Shkespeare", 1948, pag.118-203; O Jespersen, "A Modern English Grammar", 1931, pag. 235-300; M. Ehrman, "The Meanings of the Modals in THE Present-Day America English", 1966, Appendix A, pag.78-97.In Kakietek 'opinion, there is no doubt about the fact that the value of Ehrman's account is by far more important than that of the other works mentioned. As the title of her book indicates, Ehrman is primarly concerned with the modals in Present-Day American English. Though her study of Shakespeare's modals is, is in fact, based on a fairly corpus amounting up to about 75.000 words according to Kakietek, the impression one receives is that it was carried out quite hastly and that the subject was treated by her as of secondary importance. As he mantains, "our impression seems to well be sub-stantiated by the fact that Ehrman's presentation is guilty of a number of factual mistakes as it leaves many things quite unexplained". Her theory of modal verbs in general is the subject of a detailed study made by Kakietek in chapter 1 of his own work. According to him the above mentioned works (except for Ehrman's) suffer from at least two weaknesses: 1) 'Wrong interpretation of the data' 2) 'Lack of desirable generalization regarding the modal verbs'.Clearly this is a direct result of the inability on the part of the grammarians to keep apart two basically different things, namely, the semantics strictly pertaining to the modals and the semantics represented by the other sentential elements.(P. Kakietek, "Modal Verbs in Shakespeare's English, pag 1).Kakietek's study is based on the material collected from ten of Shakespeare's plays: All's Well That Ends Well, The Comedy of Errors, Henry IV part One and part Two, Henry V, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Measure for Measure, Othello and The Winter's Tale. Following Anderson (in his work:"Some Proposal Concening The Modal Verbs in English", Journal of Linguistics, 6, 1970, pag. 75)Kakietek obseves that each modal can be assigned one or more interpretation, each decomposable into a set of meaning components or features.This is how the overlap between MAY and CAN is visualized in the following figure: --M-- NON-INTENTIONAL POTENTIAL EXTERNAL NON-CONDITIONAL NON-PAST <__MAY__________ --M-- INTENTIONAL POTENTIAL EXTERNAL NON-CONDITIONAL NON-PAST CAN > --M-- INTENTIONAL...


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