The Typology of Modality in Modern West Iranian Languages
17 april 2019
Allameh Jafari Salon, Tarbiyate Modares University - Ale Ahmad Tehran, Iran
Jan Nuyts, Arsalan Golfam
PhD defence Sepideh Koohkan - Faculty of Arts
Modality concerns with the modifications and semantic changes, which the speaker makes in the proposition to indicate his/her commitment and assessment to the state of affairs. On the other hand, typology deals with the varieties in languages to achieve generalizations cross-linguistically. This thesis studies modality, as a semantic notion and typology, as mostly a formal category, in eleven New West Iranian languages, including Balochi (Bamposht), Gerashi, Gilaki (Shaft), Hawrami (Hawraman Takht), Kahangi, Kordish (Sanandaj), Lori (Balaguariveh), Persian, Semnani, Tati (Takestan) and Vafsi based on Nuyts (2005 and furthermore). The main goal of this dissertation is to examine the possibility of categorizing languages based on a semantic feature, which is modality here, and to discover the differences between this type of classification of languages and the other available categorizations which mostly have a morphological or syntactic basis.
The results reveal that all these languages, enjoy different types of expressions to express modality, including modal auxiliaries, nouns, adjectives, adverbs and main verbs (mostly complex verbs). However, this enjoyment is systematic, i.e. first, in all above languages, these are the modal auxiliaries which not only have a high frequency in the languages, but they are also the more native elements. Secondly, some languages, including Balochi (Bamposht dialect) and Hawrami (Hawraman Takht dialect) apply adverbs to express those dimensions of modality which prototypically is on modal auxiliaries in other languages to express and that is why they contain less modal auxiliaries comparing to other languages. Finally, modal nouns and adjectives (and consequently modal main verbs, which are mostly complex verbs, constructed with modal nouns/adjectives and a light verb), directly or indirectly are loan words from Arabic.
Furthermore, modal auxiliaries, and also some of the other modal elements, are polysemous, that is, they are used to state several meanings in the domain of modality. In search for classifying languages based on a semantic feature, besides the semantic map of modality in these languages, two other methods were also suggested. One, classifying languages, according to the number of the elements they apply to express modality. In this method, instead of presenting branches which a language is or is not a member of, a continuum was proposed where all languages laid on it based on the number of modal auxiliaries and modal adverbs. The other, classifies languages, on the basis of their origin, where the modal auxiliaries with the same source, are grouped together as one category.