Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses

Relevance and modality

José Luis Berbeira Gardón



This paper sets out to reasess some relevance-theoretic analyses of the English modals, in particular Walton (1988), Groefsema(1995), Klinge (1993) and Berbeira Gardón (1996a), and show how a unified treatment of modal verbs is possible within the framework of Sperber and Wilson's Relevance Theory. Before going through each of these proposals one by one, a summary is offered of the main theoretical assumptions common to all of them. In the last two sections, it is argued that a unified account of the English modals can be given if we assume that they encode that the state of affairs described in the proposition expressed is located in a potential world. This proposal draws heavily on Wilson and Sperber's (1988) account of non-declarative sentences.


Teoría de la relevancia; Verbos modales; Valor semántico; Modalidad; Semántica cognitiva


Copyright (c) 1998 José Luis Berbeira Gardón

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