Tải bản đầy đủ

Epistemic modality in english with reference to the vietnamese equivelents

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING

HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY

M.A. THESIS
EPISTEMIC MODALITY IN ENGLISH WITH REFERENCE TO THE
VIETNAMESE EQUIVALENTS
(Tính tình thái chân ngụy trong tiếng Anh liên hệ với cách diễn đạt tương
đương trong tiếng Việt)

TRẦN THỊ HỒNG
Field: English Language
Code: 60220201

Supervisor: Assoc.Prof. Dr. Ho Ngoc Trung

Hanoi, 2017


CERTIFICATE OF ORIGINALITY
I, the undersigned, hereby certify my authority of the study project report entitled

EPISTEMIC MODALITY IN ENGLISH MAIN CLAUSES WITH REFERENCE TO
THE VIETNAMESE EQUIVALENCE submitted in partial fulfillment of the

requirements for the degree of Master in English Language. Except where the
reference is indicated, no other person’s work has been used without due
acknowledgement in the text of the thesis.
Hanoi, 2017

Tran Thi Hong

Approved by
SUPERVISOR

(Signature and full name)
Date:……………………


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I am deeply indebted to a number of people for helping me to make this M.A
thesis possible. First and foremost, my deepest gratitude goes to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ho
Ngoc Trung, my supervisor, who supported and encouraged me generously throughout
this study. Without his excellent academic guidance and support, my thesis would not
have been possible.
My appreciation is also extended to a number of staff members of Faculty of
Postgraduate of Hanoi Open University for their assistance in statistical issues and for
their assistance in editing work.
Finally, I would like to thank my family, especially my parents and my husband
for their constant source of love, support and encouragement in times of difficulty and
frustration.
Despite the fact that the study has been made with great effort, there might still
exist inevitable shortcomings here and there in the paper. I deeply appreciate any
comments and suggestions for the study.


ABSTRACT

It can not be denied that modality, which is normally classified into deotic
modality and epistemic modality, plays an important role in English language. While
deontic modality expresses the obligation or necessity, epistemic modality adds
different degree of certainty to the speakers’ attitude, belief and commitment to the


realis. Besides, epistemic modality challenges both speakers and listeners in their
communicative strategy such as politeness or hedges. Owning to the intergral part of
epistemic modality in English, the study is chosen to investigate epistemic modality in
both terms of semantic and syntactic features. However, the semantic meaning and
syntactic features of epistemic modality are not accessed in a traditional way; they
will be focused in the view of pragmatics for their meaning in context and in the view
of theme- rheme structure for their occurrence in the utterances, clauses or sentences.
The contrastive analysis of epistemic modality in English with the Vietnamese
equivelents will reveal the similarities and differences between the two languages. To
some extent, English and Vietnamese share the same matter of epistemic modality
regardless of the differences in the markers of the two languages. English in this point
of view seems to be more various, expresing larger scale of certainty degree. In terms
of syntactic features, epistemic modality is more flexible, i.e. easier to move in
utterances, clauses or sentences than in Vietnamese. The similarities and differences
of epistemic modality in English and Vietnmese set the ground for the survey which
will be carried out at NBK high school to find out the common errors of the learners
there. The suggestions for a better understanding and the implications for teaching
and learning English epistemic modality, therefore, will be a valuable source to help
the learners learn English better.
Key- word: Epistemic modality, syntactic- semantic features, theme- rheme
structure.
Hanoi, 2017

Trần Thị Hồng


LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

NBK:

Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm

Madv:

Modal adverb

Madj:

Modal adjective

Maux:

Modal auxiliary

MN:

Modal noun

MLV:

Modal lexical verb

EM:

Epistemic modality

T:

Theme

R:

Rheme

I:

Initial

M:

Medial

P:

Proposition


LIST OF TABLES
Page
Table 2.1: Epistemic gradient
Table 2.2: Theme- Rheme structure
Table 3.1: Position of EM markers in declarative clauses
Table 3.2: EM markers in in Theme- Rheme structure
Table 3.3: The source of information (SOI) of EM
Table 3.4: The scale of objective, subjective and deduction of EM
Table 3.5: The occurrence of EM in English and Vietnamese
Table 3.6: Position of epistemic modality in theme- rheme structure
Table 3.7: Pragmatic features of EM in English
Table 3.8: Pragmatic features of EM in Vietnamese
Table 3.9: Madv and Madj in English and Vietnamese
Table 3.10: The certainty degree of EM in English and Vietnamese
Table 4.1: Errors in using certainty degree of epistemic modality
Table 4.2: Errors in pragmatic meaning
Table 4.3: Errors in syntactic features of epistemic modality

10
16
22
23
27
31
32
38
39
39
41
45
51
51
52

LISTS OF FIGURES
Figure 3.1: Scale of evidentiality
Figure 3.2: Scale of inferential evidentiality
Figure 3.3: Scale of possibility
Figure 3.4: Scale of certainty

25
26
28
28


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Certificate of originality
Acknowledgements
Abstract
List of abbreviations
List of tables
CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION .................................................................................... 1
1.1. Rationale for the study................................................................................................. 1
1.2. Aims and objectives of the study ................................................................................. 2
1.3. Research questions ...................................................................................................... 2
1.4. Methods of the study ................................................................................................... 2
1.5. Scope of the study ....................................................................................................... 3
1.6. Significance of the study ............................................................................................. 4
1.7. Design of the study ...................................................................................................... 4
CHAPTER II: LITERATURE REVIEW ....................................................................... 4
2.1. Previous studies ........................................................................................................... 5
2.2. Modality ...................................................................................................................... 5
2.2.1. Concepts of modality ....................................................................................... 5
2.2.2. Kinds of modality ............................................................................................ 7
2.3. Epistemic modality ...................................................................................................... 8
2.3.1. Judgements and evidentiality of epistemic modality ......................................... 8
2.3.2. Certainty degree of epistemic modality ............................................................ 9
2.3.3. Modal function of epistemic modality ............................................................ 11
2.4. Epistemic modality in the view of pragmatics ........................................................... 11
2.4.1. Epistemic modality and speech acts ............................................................... 13
2.4.2. Presuppositional features of epistemic modality ............................................. 14
2.4.3. Epistemic modality in communicative contract .............................................. 14
2.5. Epistemic modality in the view of Theme-Rheme structure ....................................... 15
2.5.1. The clause concept ......................................................................................... 15
2.5.2. Theme- Rheme structure ................................................................................ 16
2.5.3. Epistemic modality in Theme- Rheme structure ............................................. 17
2.6. Summary ................................................................................................................... 18


CHAPTER III: ENGLISH EPISTEMIC MODALITY WITH REFERENCE TO
THE VIETNAMESE EQUIVALENTS IN SOME BILINGUAL BOOKS ................. 18
3.1. Syntactic and semantic features of epistemic modality in English.............................. 18
3.1.1. Syntactic features of epistemic modality in English........................................ 19
3.1.2. Semantic features of epistemic modality in English........................................ 23
3.2. English epistemic modality with the Vietnamese equivalents .................................... 31
3.2.1. Syntactic similarities and differences of English and Vietnamese EM ............ 33
3.2.2. Semantic similarities and differences of EM in English and Vietnamese ........ 38
3.3. Summary ................................................................................................................... 48
CHAPTER IV: COMMON ERRORS MADE BY NGUYEN BINH KHIEM HIGH
SCHOOL LEARNERS WHEN USING EPISTEMIC MODALITY IN ENGLISH .. 49
4.1. Survey questionnaires ................................................................................................ 50
4.1.1. Subject ........................................................................................................... 50
4.1.2. Questionnaire ................................................................................................. 50
4.1.3. Procedure ....................................................................................................... 50
4.2. Common errors made by Nguyen Binh Khiem high school learners of English when
using epistemic modality in English ................................................................................. 50
4.2.1. Errors in semantic features of epistemic modality .......................................... 50
4.2.2. Errors in symantic features of epistemic modality .......................................... 52
4.3. Causes of committing errors ...................................................................................... 52
4.4. Suggestions for learning epistemic modality in English ............................................. 53
4.4.1. For learners and learning material .................................................................. 53
4.4.2. Suggested exercises........................................................................................ 54
4.5. Summary ................................................................................................................... 55
CHAPER V: CONCLUSION ........................................................................................ 56
5.1. Concluding remarks .................................................................................................. 56
5.2. Limitation of the study .............................................................................................. 57
5.3. Suggestions for further study ..................................................................................... 58
REFERENCE
APPENDIX


CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

1. 1. Rationale for the study
In daily communication, not only do speakers interact with each other by giving
and receiving information but they also exchange their attitude and knowledge to the
realis. One of the effective means used to express the different shades of their attitude
and knowledge to the fact is modality, a large branch of English and Vietnamese
linguistics. The aspect of semantics that involves the factual status of statement is
epistemic modality. Epistemic modality reveals the speaker’s different degrees of
certainty, doubts, possibility, for example. The syntactic features of epistemic modality
lies in the relation of their complements, i.e. epistemic modality markers, modal verbs,
for instance with the whole or the part of the clause that contains epistemic meanings.
Attitude and knowledge of the participants expressed in communication is very
important. Which language items used to express it and how to operate the language
items is quite hard for Vietnamese learners of English, especially for high school
learners of English. When learning English, Vietnamese learners focus more on the
syntactic function, modal verb structure, for example, than the semantic features of
epistemic modality. As a result, they are likely unable to make their interaction
naturally. They meet difficulty expressing their real attitude, thought or belief. For
example, instead of saying: “You might be true” to express their degree of doubt, they
simply say: “You are true.”
Vietnamese learners of English need to develop the ability to express the degree
of certainty, doubt or the extent of their commitment to an assertion, as well as
conveying their attitudes to the listeners in a variety of social contexts. English and
Vietnamese have various means and devices to express their status but they differ from
one to another. For example, besides modal verbs, modal adverbs, modal adjectives,
English has modal nouns, which is unfamiliar to Vietnamese.
Epistemic modality has been seriously studied by several linguists and
grammarians under the light of cognitive, pragmatic and functional grammar perfective.
Palmer (2001) investigates epistemic modality on the grounds of “systematized
and organized” within the grammatical system of language. However, the grammatical
ground for epistemic modality can be distinguished by the meaning encoded by
grammar and pragmatic principles and inference. According to this point of view, the
range of the grammatical devices used to indicate epistemic modality or evidence the
speaker has for what he or she says must include a whole range of phenomenasyntactic, morphological, lexical and prosodic.

1


This thesis will focus on epistemic modality in the view of pragmatics to
investigate all the semantic features of epistemic modality in broader contexts and in
the view of functional grammar, Theme- Rheme structure, a clause that has a theme and
a Rheme to find out the occurrences of epistemic modality in the clause and its
connection to the rest of the clause.
The syntactic and semantic features of epistemic modality will be referenced in
the bilingual book, fairy tales: “Happy Prince” by Oscar Wilde, translated by Ngo
Thanh Tam, published in 2016.
For the above mentioned reasons, the thesis has the title: EPISTEMIC
MODALITY IN ENGLISH WITH REFERENCE TO THE VIETNAMESE
EQUIVALENTS.
1.2. Aims and objectives of the study
The thesis will look into modality especially epistemic modality in English
syntactically and semantically with Vietnamese equivalents in some bilingual story
books to find out the similarities and differences in the two languages to help
Vietnamese learners study modality in English effectively.
The thesis therefore will intend:
- To investigate the syntactic features of epistemic modality in English in the view
of functional grammar Theme- Rheme structure and the semantic features of epistemic
modality in the view of pragmatic perspective.
- To find out the similarities and differences in meaning and structure of epistemic
modality in English through the reference to the Vietnamese sequivalent in some
bilingual books.
- To give some suggestions for teaching and learning epistemic modality in
English effectively.
1.3. Research questions
The study is to answer the three questions:
1. What are the syntactic and semantic features of epistemic modality in
English?
2. What are the similarities and differences of epistemic modality in English and
the Vietnamese equivalents?
3. What factors help Nguyen Binh Khiem high school learners learn epistemic
modality in English effectively?
1.4. Methods of the study
The research has been approached by describing the syntactic features of
epistemic modality in English in the view of Theme- Rheme structure to find out the
positions that epistemic modality often occurs in the clause. The semantic features of
epistemic modality will be seen in the view of pragmatics to look into the speakers’
attitudes to the facts or realis, whether they are assertions, commitments or
2


possibilities and what sources of information do they choose to express their attitudes
to the facts.
Moreover, epistemic modality will be contrasted and analyzed basing on the
reference to the Vietnamese equivalents collected in some bilingual story books. The
contrastive analysis will show the basic features of epistemic modality syntactically and
semantically in English and in Vietnamese.
The survey questionnaires are also designed in quantitative method to make it
much more resorted to. The questionnaires are directly given to 105 grades 12 of the
three English specialized classes at Nguyen Binh Khiem high school. Based on the
collected data, the errors will be analyzed using comparing and contrasting techniques
to find out the similarities and differences in both terms of syntactic and semantic
features of English epistemic modality. From the features of making errors, some
suggestions to reduce the errors are given out then.
1.5. Scope of the study
This study focuses on the descriptive account of syntactic and semantic features
of epistemic modality in English based on the classification of Palmer (2001). Modality
basically includes two kinds: epistemic and deontic modality. Epistemic modality has
two sub-types: judgements and evidential. The former involves possibility and
necessity. The latter encodes the grounds on which a speaker makes overly qualified
and indirect subcategories. Epistemic modality has the declarative as its unmarked
member of the modal system. Deontic modality contains an element of “will” such as it
is concerned with action rather than with belief, knowledge or truth. Deontic can be
featured as necessity or obligation.
Modality is realized either syntactic or semantic features by different markers
such as modal auxiliaries like can, could, may; adverbs like probably, likely, surely;
adjectives like possible, certain, sure; nouns like necessity, probability, possibility;
modal words like actually, frankly, undoubtedly, … as well as their relation with other
parts of the sentence.
Modality mood, which deals with the syntactic structures, refers to indicative
sentence, a request or a command, part of which expresses modality, whereas
imperative serve as expressions of deontic modality.
In semantic meaning, modality conveys the interpersonal related to the speaker’s
own contribution to the representational meaning of the sentence. It can express the
attitude of the speaker without any necessary implication that the judgment applies to
the subject of the sentence or indeed to the speaker. (Quirk, 1985)
The application of this work will compare epistemic modality in English with
the Vietnamese equivalents in some bilingual story books to find out the similarities
and differences between the two languages. A survey is also carried out to investigate
the use of epistemic modality in English main clauses syntactically and semantically of
3


105 students coming from 3 different English specialized grades 12 of Nguyen Binh
Khiem high school. For the national curriculum set by the government, grade 12
students are more familiar to the term “modal verbs” than “modality” or “epistemic
modality”. They use some of the epistemic markers such as can, may, might, maybe,
probably, surely but they do not know these markers belong to epistemic modality and
that I think, I suppose is in the same kind of epistemic modality.
The survey questionnaires and the collected data, therefore, will be designed and
analyzed respectively to find out their find out their common errors when using
epistemic modality in terms of syntactic and semantic features, which might be useful
to give some suggestions for their better learning of epistemic modality in English
1.6. Significance of the study
The study will give an overview on epistemic modality in English both terms of
syntactic and semantic features, which hasn’t been researched thoroughly before. In
addition, the finding of the thesis makes contributions to help Vietnamese learners
especially high school students make the similarities and differences between epistemic
modality in English and the equivalents in Vietnamese to find out their actual errors
when using modality in English main clauses. This will enable them to learn English in
general and epistemic modality in English in specific more effectively.
1.7. Design of the study
This study consists of 5 chapters. Chapter 1- INTRODUCTION- gives a brief
overview of the study with the rationale for choosing the study, aims, methods, scope,
significance and design of the study. Chapter 2- LITERATURE REVIEW- presents the
previous studies relating to the study area, the theoretical background for the thesis and
the description of the research- governing orientations as well as the approaches to the
study. Chapter 3- ENGLISH EPISTEMIC MODALITY WITH REFERENCE TO THE
VIETNAMESE EQUIVELENT IN SOME BILINGUAL STORY BOOKS – shows the
syntactic and semantic features of epistemic modality in English and the comparison of
these features with the Vietnamese equivalents in some bilingual story books. Chapter
4- COMMON ERRORS MADE BY NGUYEN BINH KHIEM HIGH SCHOOL
LEARNERS OF ENGLISH WHEN USING EPISTEMIC MODALITY IN ENGLISHindicates some common errors made by high school learners of learning English as a
foreign language based on survey questionnaires and the implications for learning
English in general and for epistemic modality in specific. Chapter 5- CONCLUSIONmakes a brief summary of the whole study, points out some limitations of the study and
gives some suggestions for further studies. The Reference comes at the end of the
study.
CHAPTER II
LITERATURE REVIEW
4


2.1. Previous studies
English epistemic modality has been mentioned and studied by a number of
linguistists and grammarians. This great branch of language has seriously been
investigated by Palmer (2001), Geoffrey Leech (1982), Leo Hoyer (1997), Jeffersen
(1924), Anna Maria, Simon Vandenbergen and Karin Aijimer (2007), Do Huu Chau
(1983) and Nguyen Hoa (2004).
Palmer (2001) analysed the fundamentals of English mood and modality. He
also made the primary differences between mood and modality, epistemic and deontic
modality. Geeffrey Leech (1982) referred to the classification of modality. Leo Hoyer
(1997) focused on the English epistemic modality devices such as modal adverbs,
modal adjectives, modal auxiliaries and modal nouns. Jeffersen (1924) distinguished
English modal verbs and mood. He also pointed out the semantic meaning of some
English modal verbs. Anna Maria, Simon Vandenbergen and Karin Aijimer (2007)
studied the semantic field of modal certainty, in which they mentioned to the different
degrees of certainty of some English modal markers as Leo Hoyer; however, they
added modal lexical verbs such as reportive verbs, auditory and sensory markers.
In Vietnamese, Do Huu Chau (1983) investigated the semantic system and
semantic meaning of modality markers including epistemic and deontic modality.
Nguyen Hoa (2004) mentioned to the two kinds of modality with a deeper analysis of
their meaning in main and subordinate clauses.
Besides, quite a lot of Vietnamese researchers have found and tend to make
comparison between epistemic modality in English and Vietnamese and presented their
conclusion, their findings to give out a broader view and a more comprehensive scale of
epistemic modality in the both languages.
Ngo Thien Hung (1996) investigated English epistemic markers on the view of
syntactic and semantic features. He looked into the positions and the pragmatic
meaning of epistemic markers in the utterances in traditional grammar. Hoang Thi Sau
(2012) referred to modal adverbs as hedges in verbal communication. She exploited
epistemic modality on the light of pragmatic context only. Luu Quy Duong and Tran
Thi Minh Giang (2012) only focused on epistemic modal adverbs. English epistemic
modality, however, is not seen on the view of functional grammar by Halliday
systematically from syntactic to semantic features. That is the reason why I have
decided to conduct the research entitled: EPISTEMIC MODALITY IN ENGLISH
WITH REFERENCE TO THE VIETNAMESE EUIVALENTS.
2.2. Modality
2.2.1. Concepts of modality

5


In English, a feature of its language that is used to communicate in actual
situations, to express speakers’ general intentions as well as their commitment to
different degrees of their belief, obligation, desire, or actuality in an expressed
proposition is known as modality. The term modality, however, must be distinguished
with the term mood. Look at the example:
Eg. (1)
a. Mary may leave here soon.
b. Mary leaves here soon.
c. It is important that Mary leave here soon.
In the example (1a), “may” is recognized as a modal verb, a grammatical point,
but when we look at the content or proposition the modal meanings of “may” conveys
in the clause: the speaker’s attitude to the information- the possibility that Mary leaves
for London tomorrow, that is modality, not mood.
According to Jespersen (1924), the term mood is used to refer to both mood and
modality. However, the two can be distinguished according to whether they refer to the
grammatical expressions of various modalities- mood or the meanings so expressedmodality. He also notes that mood is a grammatical notion, whereas modality is a
semantic notion relating to such concepts as ‘possibility’, ‘necessity’, ‘permission’, or
‘obligation’, etc.
Palmer (2001) suggests that modality is implemented grammatically
through three moods namely indicative, imperative and subjunctive. These three moods
are then implemented as verb inflections. The indicative is used in sentences or clauses
that are typically used to make factual statements as in example (1b). The subjunctive
mood is traditionally seen as the form of a verb that it used to speak about hypothetical,
desirable or necessary situations as in example (1c). English does not have an
imperative mood, but to speak instead of imperative clauses. These are clauses that
normally lack a subject. In grammar and semantics, modality refers to linguistic devices
that indicate the degree to which an observation is possible, probable, likely, certain,
permitted, or prohibited. In English, these notions are commonly expressed by modal
auxiliaries, and sometimes it is combined with “not”.
Modality, however, is also regarded as pragmatic category so that modal
expressions should be studied in their whole contexts of the utterance, but not at the
single utterance only. (Leo Hoyer, 1997)
Martin J. Endley (2010) suggests that the simplest way to explain modality is to
say that it has to do with the stance the speaker adopts toward some situation expressed
in an utterance: “… Modality reflects the speaker's attitude toward the situation being
described".
Bybee (1985) gives a broader definition about modality. He says that modality is
what the speaker is doing with the whole proposition.

6


The suggestions and definitions about modality are various. However, they have
a common idea that modality concern entire statements, not just event or entitles, and it
conveys the whole expression in a truth- functional level.
Modality is highlighted on the view of its association with entire statements
modality concern the factual status of information. It shows the relation of actuality,
validity, believability of the content of a clause or a proposition. As such, modality
evokes not only objective measures of factual status but also subjective attitudes and
orientation toward the content of a clause or proposition.
2.2.2. Kinds of modality
Modality has been classified in different ways. Some have been considered
under its relation between the speaker’s attitude and the real world. Some others have
been examined based on its grammatical words and lexical words.
According to Jespersen (1924), modality is distinguished between “propositional
modality” and “event modality”, between “containing an element of will” and
“containing no element of will.” He elicits that “propositional modality” is the kind of
modality that contains will in its proposition. “Event modality”, however, is the kind of
having no element of will.
Eg. (2) a. She will come soon.
b. She comes soon.
The example (2a) “She will come soon” has “will” in its clause, which shows
the degree of certainty (not absolutely sure), is considered to be Propositional modality.
As in (2b) “She comes soon”, which has no “will”, it is a totally declarative
clause, is regarded as an Event modality.
Leo Hoyer (2013) and Günter Radden and René Dirven (2007) classifies
modality into two types: epistemic and deontic. They suggest that epistemic modality is
concerned with the speaker's assessment of, or attitude towards, the potentiality of a
state of affairs, and therefore, it relates to different worlds as in “Mary must be right”,
which shows the assessments of potentiality, the world of knowledge and reasoning that
Mary is right. Deontic modality is concerned with the speaker's directive attitude
towards an action to be carried out, as in the obligation “Mary must go now”.
Lyons (1997) reveals his concern about the notions of subjectivity relating to the
different phenomenon, including deontic and epistemic modality. He considers the
subjectivity of the speakers and the objectivity of the realis when interacting. In his
words, under one interpretation of the sentence “Thomas may get unmarried”, the
speaker may be understood as subjectively qualifying his commitment to the possibility
of Thomas’s being unmarried in term of his own certainty and the sentence is more or
less equivalent to “Perhaps Thomas is unmarried”, i.e. “may” is equivalent to
“perhaps”, something not sure, not certain. There are, however, situations in which the
possibility of "Thomas’s being unmarried” is presentable as an objective fact. The
7


speaker might reasonably say that he knows, and does not merely think or believe, that
there is a possibility of “Thomas’s being unmarried”. Hence, subjective modality is the
expression of the speaker’s beliefs. Objective modality, on the other hand, refers to
reality, which is part of the description of the world.
Langacker (1990) mentions that the notion of subjectivity is referred as the ways
in which speakers can construe conceptualization in alternative ways and more
concentrated on the extent to which the conceptualizer or speaker is explicitly present
in the conceptualization or presentation of a concept.
In general, these authors all point out the two types of modality under their own
approaches. Modality, however, whether it is considered under the relation between
“subjectivity” and “objectivity”, with “will” or no “will”, between speaker’s belief and
the world or the relation between speaker’s attitude and the action carried out, the name
epistemic and deontic for the two kinds of modality seems to be more terminalized and
the relation of them sets the ground for a version of epistemic modality as well.
2.3. Epistemic modality
As mentioned above, modality is classified into deontic modality and epistemic
modality. Deontic refers to the obligation, what expects to be done, meanwhile,
epistemic modality express the speaker’s certainty, possibility or doubts.
However, epistemic modality will be more focused in this part for a better and
deeper understanding about one of the two kinds of modality. Epistemic modality with
its own features, the degree or the scales will also be discussed in the following part.
2.3.1. Judgements and evidentiality of epistemic modality
Palmer (2001) refers to the two kinds of epistemic modality: judgements and
evidentials. In his view, judgment and evidential epistemic modality show the
commitment of the speaker toward the truth of the proposition with different degrees of
possibility. Judgment epistemic modality involves possibility and necessity, particularly
with regard to speculation and deduction on the part of the speaker as subject or
perceiver of the information. Judgements assert the possibility of the truth of a
proposition without any overt indication of the grounds for that assertion. Judgements
can be classified into necessary judgements and possible judgements based on the
degree of confidence, inference, deduction and speculation, or strong and weak
judegements.
Eg. (3)
a. The nurse may go out to sleep under a great elder tree.
(8:128)
b. You were lovers. It must have been a bit of shock.
(18:35)
In the examples, the two forms “may” and “must have” encode the same
epistemic modality but “may” signal a less confidence than “must have”.
Evidentials, in contrast to judgements, encodes the ground on which a speaker
makes an overtly qualified assertion. Evidentials explicitly signal the collateral that the
speaker takes as substantiating an assertion. Evidentials can be subcategorized into:
8


direct and indirect evidentials. Direct evidentials show the speaker’s first hand evidence
with sensory evidence carrying the main weight. Indirect evidentials refer to the second
hand facts. Direct evidential is recognized by an auditory or reportive from a quotative
and indirect evidential is realized by hearsay one.
Eg. (4)
a. The spring has come at last, said the Giant.
(8: 66)
b. It sounds as though you may have need of me.
(18: 352)
In (4a), the truth of the event “The Spring has come at last” is asserted on the
basic of hearsay, which is said and reported indirectly to the speaker. But in (4b) “It
sounds as though” lays the ground for the assertion “you may have need of me”. The
ground shows the direct auditory encountering with the event.
2.3.2. Certainty degree of epistemic modality
For Givon [9], epistemic modality is the way a language expresses the relative
validity of propositions, and this depends in turn on how the language and the culture
that the language is embedded in interpreting a universal scale of epistemic choice.
Givon argues that there are three kinds of propositions, types by their interest
certainty and need for substantiation: (1) Epistemic modality with lowest certainty- the
doubtful hypotheses are beneath challenge and substantiation; (2) Epistemic modality
with medium certainty- the challenge requires supporting evidence; (3) Epistemic
modality with high certainty- the presupposition are above the challenge.
For the proposition with high certainty, the presupposition refers to this
epistemic modality. The communicative contract treats information as assumed by the
speaker to be known to, familiar to or otherwise unlikely to be challenged the hearer. In
some languages, given the contingencies of the culture, mystical or revealed knowledge
is above challenge as the culture; mystical of revealed knowledge is above challenge, as
in traditional societies.
The proposition with lowest certainty is known as irrealis. Under this mode,
information is weakly asserted, as hypothesis, possibility, probability, supposition or
guess. The source of the information is thus largely irrelevant, since the speaker does
not intend to defend the information too vigorously against challenge. In fact, often the
speaker volunteers the information under the irrealis mode precisely in order to solicit
challenge, correction or corroboration.
For the proposition with medium certainty, Givon [9] argues that evidential
requirements are found only in the middle range of the scale, the realis assertion. Under
this mode, information is strongly asserted, yet it remains open to challenge by the
hearer. The speaker must then be prepared to defend the information, by citing the
source of evidence as in the figure below:
Table 2.1: Epistemic gradient
Proposition
Proposition
Proposition

9


Beneath Challenge
Open to Challenge
Above Challenge
Low certainty
Middle certainty
High certainty
No evidence
Evidence Required
No evidence
From this construe, all qualified assertion epistemic modality are obviously
evidential to some degree. The question to be answered is what the evidence is allowed
and how it is chosen.
Givon [9:43] argues that languages quantify evidence along four gradients:
Person: Speaker -> Hearer -> Third person
Sense: Vision -> Hearing -> Other senses -> Feeling
Directness: Sense -> Inference
Proximity: Near -> Far
If a speaker is forced to choose evidence to defend his assertion, he chooses
evidence according to the above mentioned four scales and according to the internal
order of the gradients, vision over hearing, for instance.
Givon provides rules of evidence for his scale and points out that only in the
scale of realis- assertion are evidence assumed to be both available and expected, which
is ranked according to the degree of evidentiary strength, thus corresponding closely to
subjective certainty.
Scale of evidentiary strength of source:
a. Direct sensory experience
b. Inference from direct sensory experience
c. Indirect inference
d. Hearsay
In languages with further differences among several possible sensory sources of
direct evidence, the grammar of evidentiality tends to rank the senses according to their
reliability as source of evidence:
Scale of reliability of sensory evidence:
a. Visual experience
b. Auditory experience
c. Other sensory experience
In the grammar of evidentiality, one also finds the ranking of the participants in
the event according to person:
Scale of participants in events:
a. Speaker
b. Hearer
c. Third party
Scale of spatial proximity:
a. Near the speech situation

10


b. Away from the speech situation
Finally, the grammar of evidentiality also tends to rank the temporal proximity
of the reported event to the speech time, in a rather predictable way:
Scale of temporal proximity:
a. Nearer to speech time
b. Father away from speech time
The scale of temporal proximity is not independently of the other scales as it
often associated with spatial proximity to speech place, thus with the speaker’s direct
presence at the reported scene.
2.3.3. Modal function of epistemic modality
According to the scale of source of knowledge and strength of knowledge,
epistemic modality is mainly conveyed by modal function, which is specifically
expressed by modal markers such as modal adverbs, modal adjectives, modal nouns,
modal lexical verbs and modal auxiliaries.
1. Modal adverbs (Madv): perhaps, probably, maybe, certainly, presumably,
truly, really, …: có lẽ, có thể, chắc chắn, dường như, …
2.Modal adjectives (Madj): possible, probable, likely, true, false, necessary, …:
có thể, phải, chắc chắn, đúng, nhất định, …
3. Modal nouns (MN): possibility, probability, certainty, …: có thể, sẽ, phải, …
4. Modal lexical verbs (MLV): think, believe, know, suspect, suppose, assume,
presume, guess, doubt…: nghĩ, tin, biết, đoán, ngờ, cho là, …
5. Modal auxiliaries (Maux): will, may, must, should, can, might, ought to, …: có
thể, sẽ, phải, …
These grammatical and lexical devices are called epistemic markers in general
term. In some places, where these means are realized in actual use, they may be called
modal adjectives construction or epistemic quantifiers, for instance.
2.4. Epistemic modality in the view of pragmatics
Willet (1988) denotes that modality involves all the aspect of meaning in the
scope of pragmatics. These pragmatic meanings integrate to form an expressive
message accompanying with the proposition.
He suggests a distinction between the intraphrasal modality that is the modal
meaning integrated in the structure of the clause and the modal meaning over the whole
proposition. In his words “the modality of the proposition includes the modality
involving with descriptive message which consists of objective modality and subjective
modality. The objective modality and subjective modality may involve the speaker’s
intellectual attitudes to the proposition, denoted by such language units as “I think, I
suppose, …”.

11


The expressive modality involves the reflection, either conscious or unconscious
of the psychological, social features, the characteristics of profession, region, age group
of the speakers, the listener and their relationship of the participants (intimate, frozen).
The communicative modality involves the reflection, conscious or unconscious,
of the relationship between the message and the situation (where, ritual or unritual),
stylistic aspect, the characteristic of the listeners, the speaker’s attitude (willing or
reluctant). It also involves the conditions, manner of opening, sustaining and closing in
interaction).
Obviously, Willet’s viewpoint has paved the way for us to extend the concept of
modality in the view of pragmatics where we deal with factors of communication.
According to Searle (1972), pragmatics relates to the observation that, in the
context of the human behavioral repertoire, language has a specific role to play, to
allow communication with other members of the species.
Leech (1983) indicates that pragmatics is the study of how utterances have
meanings in situation.
Yule (1996) and Richard, Plan & Weber (1995) share the same idea with Leech.
They points out the role of pragmatics in the study of epistemic modality. Pragmatics,
in their point of view, is the study of the use of language in communication and
contextual meaning involves the interpretation of what people mean in a particular
context and how the context influence what is said.
When epistemic modality is approached in the view of pragmatics, it will show
the relationship between the speaker, the utterance and the context of the utterance.
Look at the example:
Eg. (5)

a. The book must be on the shelf.
b. The book may be on the shelf.

(23:248)

Semantically, (5a) and (5b) contain signals of epistemic modality in their
clauses, which express the degree of certainty (5a) and possibility (5b). However, if
(5a) and (5b) are examined in their contexts, they show the different context meanings.
There is evidence from which it follows that the book is on the shelf in (5a) but the
speaker finds from available evidence less certain in (5b) so he/she uses “may” to
express this shade of meaning.
Language, however, is not the only type of communication. Human
communicates with each other not only by language but also by many other types of
communication. At least, in terms of the possibility it offers for transmitting complex
patterns of information. Hence, investigating the semantic features of English epistemic
modality, it should be involved in the context that is considered to be the background of
the communication.
12


2.4.1. Epistemic modality and speech acts
According to Yule G. (1996: 47), in attempting to express themselves, people do
not only produce utterances containing grammatical structures and words, they perform
actions via those utterances. The actions via utterances are generally called speech acts.
The social ritual constraints help the hearer to interpret a question as a greeting
in an actual situation, and therefore, speaker and hearer in a language community
should acquire the convention and rules of communication to interpret speaker’s intent.
Austin [1: 94, 120], when a speaker utters a sentence, he performs three acts:
locutionary act, illocutionary act and perlocutionary act.
Locutionary act: the speaker selects language units as phonetic units, lexical
items, grammatical rules and combine these to form an utterance. In short, a locutionary
act is the act of saying something which is meaningful and can be understood.
Illocutinary act: is performed via the communicative force of an utterance. An
illocutionary act is using a sentence to perform a function. Speaker can choose specific
language units as indicators to signal the function of the sentence. The sentence “She
left early”, the word “probably” can be added to “She probably left early”, probably
signal the function of the sentence as a tentative assertion.
Perlocutionary act: is the result or effects that are produced by means of saying
something. For example, when the speaker says “John is helpful”, he is willing to help
people” can be interpreted as a persuasive statement “John is a right man to make
friend with”.
Speech act has two kinds of meaning in utterance/ sentence: Locutionary act has
the same meaning as a proposition. This is the basic literal meaning of the sentence
which is conveyed by the particular words and structure which the sentence contains.
Illocutionary force, whereas, indicates the effect of the sentence on the hearer. For
example:
The proposition “John comes” can be uttered with many different illocutionary
acts as follows:
Assertive: John comes.
Exclamation: John comes.
These illocutionary acts are realized in the following performative utterance:
I’m sure John comes.
My god! John comes!
In the example, “I’m sure”, “My god”, reveal epistemic modality of the
illocutionary force of the sentence and help the hearer interpret the speaker’s intent.
Searle grouped speech acts into 5 major types by their functions: directives,
comissives, representatives, declaratives and expressive.
Directives: getting the hearer to do something
Eg. (6)
a. Open the door.
(rather rude)
13


b. Please open the door.
(fairy polite)
(23: 245)
Commissives: functions as a promise or refusal for action.
Eg. (7)
a. Surely, I’ll phone you tomorrow.
(certain)
b. Maybe, I’ll phone you tomorrow.
(tentative)
(23: 276)
Representatives: state what the speaker believes to be the case or not. Statements
of fact, assertions, conclusions, and description.
Eg. (8)
a. You are right.
b. Maybe, you are right.
(23:286)
Declaratives: bring about a new state.
Expressive: speaker expresses feelings and attitudes about something, such as
apology, a complaint, to thank someone, … It can also be stronger or weaker.
Eg. (9)
a. Your house is really large.
b. Your house is quite large.
(23:321)
2.4.2. Presuppositional features of epistemic modality
Willet (2004) notes that when someone says “John is tired”, there are many
presuppositions for the background of the utterance. The speaker may be John or
someone else. Maybe, John is working too hard recently, or he may feel tired with the
present work, or maybe he wants to do something for a change.
For linguists, presupposition does not refer to all the possible knowledge within
we interpret propositions but only those that are encoded in the linguistic syntactic
system. The utterance “John is tired” can be changed by adding some words like “John
may be tired”, “John must be tired”. The degree of the assertion or the truth of the
utterance has been changed. “May” and “must” in the utterances here reveal the
features of presupposition whether it is true or not really true. The different degrees of
presupposition can be called the degrees of possibility for something that is not really
true and certainty for something that comes nearer to the truth.
2.4.3. Epistemic modality in communicative contract
Givon [8] states that human communication involves an intricate network of
conventions concerning what speakers and hearers are entitled to expect of each other
when carrying out their respective roles in communication.
Epistemic modality at the extreme of the modal range, the communicative
contract between speaker and hearer governs the speaker’s responsibilities and
reliability or certainty to the communicated information. The contract also governs the
interaction between speakers and hearers concerning status of the communicated
information.
Givon [8:164] also suggests that there exist some inferential connections among
various propositional modalities, so that the purely epistemic modes shade into sociomanipulative modes: Truth -> knowledge -> certainty -> status -> power.

14


These inferences are pragmatic norms associated with the communicative
contract which itself embedded within a wider context of socio- personal interaction.
Levinson [3] observes that epistemic modality can be used to raise or reduce the
degree of certainty; enhance or threaten face of the others. Therefore, in some
communicative situations, the speakers tend to scale down their expression of certainty
by using hedges or to avoid offending the hearers, they try to maintain the hearer’s face
by using epistemic modality at low degree.
2.5. Epistemic modality in the view of Theme-Rheme structure
When considering EM in the view of theme- rheme structure by Halliday (2004),
some notions relating to the fields such as clause, theme and rheme should be covered.
The clause concept, moreover, should be made much clearer in comparison with the
one presented by Randolph Quirk (1985).
While Randolph Quirk is considered the founder of traditional grammar with
many concepts about language such as sentences, clauses, nouns, verbs, … which
seems to be familiar to everyone who studies languages, Halliday becomes a new
discover basing on his observation of the function of language or language in functional
grammar (language in use). He shows a new view on a language in general and gives
out many new concepts in specific. However, the new concepts by Halliday sometimes
have the analogy with the traditional ones.
2.5.1. The clause concept
According to Quirk, a clause is a part of a sentence, conveying an independent
supposition. The clause elements are subject (S), verb (V), object (O), complement (C),
adverbial (A):
Eg. (10)
What he did make me said.
(20: 51)
Similarly, Ronal Carter (2001) defines a clause is the basic unit of grammar. A
main clause is made up of a subject (a noun phrase) and a verb phrase (sometimes
followed by other elements, e.g. objects, complements, adjuncts):
Eg. (11)
a. They don’t feel well.
(S- V- C)
b. They haven’t posted all the invitations.
(S- V- O)
c. I’ll call you later.
(S- V-O- A)
(21: 37)
He also indicates that a clause is a group of words containing both a subject and
a predicate but cannot always be considered as a full grammatical sentence. Clauses can
be either independent clauses (also called main clauses) or dependent clauses (also
called subordinate clauses). A main clause contains both a subject and predicate, can
stand alone as a sentence. A subordinate clause only gives extra information and is
“dependent” on other words to make a full sentence. Considering the example:
Eg. (12)
a. They lived in New York.
(main clause- simple sentence)
b. That she got married surprised all of us.
(subordinate clause)

15


The clause as in Halliday’s view is the mainspring grammatical energy; it is the
unit where meanings of different kinds, experiential, interpersonal and textual, are
integrated into a single syntagm. [2: 50].
Thus, Halliday considers all kinds of sentences and clauses from independent or
main clause to dependent or subordinate clauses as in traditional grammar to be the
clause only.
From the view of Randolph Quirk and Halliday on the clause, the term “main
clause”, “subordinate clause” or “clause” refers to the same grammatical point in
English language.
Hence, when taking epistemic modality into account, different linguists use
different terms of “clause” for the same language point like Palmer (2001). He
considers main clauses as the markers of modality, whereas subordinate clauses as the
propositions.
2.5.2. Theme- Rheme structure
Halliday (2004) also observes that in all languages, the clause has the character
of a message: it has some form of organization giving it a status of a communicative
event. In English, as in many other languages, the clause is organized as a message by
having a special status assigned to one part of it. On element in the clause is enunciated
as the theme; this then combined with the remainder so that the two parts together
constitute a message.
He indicates that a message consists of theme and rheme. Theme is the element
which serves as the point of departure of the message, it is that with which the clause is
concerned. The remainder of the message, the part in which the theme is developed, is
called rheme. Theme and rheme seen in a message structure, therefore, form the
structure called theme- rheme structure as in the figure 2.1:
Table 2.2: Theme- Rheme structure
Marry
bought this saucepan at the supermarket.
Marry and Peter
live in an apartment in the city centre.
Theme
Rheme
When looking into theme only, theme has three types: textual, interpersonal and
topical theme. Ideational theme relates to the meaning of the particular clause to other
part of the text; interpersonal theme often function to code the speaker’s or writer’s
personal judgment on meaning; topical theme often functions as the point of orientation
for the experiential meanings of the clause.
In kinds of sentences or clauses, theme may appear in declarative, exclamative,
interrogative or imperative ones. In declarative sentences, theme functions as subject
(unmarked theme). It may be a nominal group or something other than a subject
(marked theme). In exclamative clauses, WH- element, normally nominal group or

16


adverbial group functions as theme. In interrogative, the typical function of theme in
this kind is to ask a question for all kinds of reasons. The natural theme of a question is
“what I want to know”. Theme in interrogative is a finite and a subject or a WH- word.
In imperative sentence, the predicator (the verb) is regularly found in theme and verbal
group function as predicator plus preceding don’t if negative.
Look at the examples for the theme in the 4 kinds of clauses:
Eg (13)
a.The two Indians stood waiting.
(Declarative)
b. How cheerfully he seems to grin!
(Exclamative) (8: 349)
c. Are you interested in syntax?
(Interrogative- finite + subject)
d. What are you doing here?
(Interrogative- finite + subject)
(8: 351)
e. Wake me up before the coffee break.
(Imperative)
f. Don’t disturb me while I am taking a nap.
(Imperative)
(8: 356)
2.5.3. Epistemic modality in Theme- Rheme structure
In theme- rheme structure, epistemic modality can be seen in some kinds of
theme and some kinds of the clauses but not in all the theme kinds and clauses as
mentioned above.
In the interpersonal theme, the components of this type relate to modals, which
are the markers of epistemic modality. More specifically, the modal adjuncts which
expresses the speaker’s judgment regarding to relevance of the message such as
probably, possibly, frankly, to be honest, … and mood- marking or a finite.
In the kinds of sentences, epistemic modality appears in declarative and often
functions as a predicator (the verb) of the sentences. These verbs are normally
expressed by modal markers (Maux) such as can, may, might:
Eg. (14)
a. The two Indians may come early.
b. It might be raining there.
(8: 271)
Epistemic modality can also be seen in interrogative sentences. In this kind,
theme consists of a finite and a subject (a polarity). It conveys the idea that what the
speaker want to know is the polarity “yes” or “no”. EM markers in this kind are usually
Madj used as a setting for the speaker’s attitude or opinion about the fact in the
followed proposition, for example:
Eg. (15)
a. Are you sure he is a prince?
(18: 38)
b. Is it true that spring will come soon?
(8:72)
For interrogative sentence with WH- questions, theme is a WH- word
(unmarked), a nominal group, an adverbial group, or a prepositional phrase function as
an interrogative (WH-) element. EM or EM marker, however, is not popular in this kind
of theme.
Eg. (16)
a. What are you doing here?
b. Then why does she bother?
(8: 89)
17


Tài liệu bạn tìm kiếm đã sẵn sàng tải về

Tải bản đầy đủ ngay

×