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Zur Syntax und Semantik von Modalprädikativa

Hagen Pitsch

The current study aims at the semantic as well as the syntactic properties of so-called ’modal predicatives’ (модальные предикативы) which can be found in several (North) Slavic languages such as Russian, Polish, or Czech. Since Ščerba (1928), their grammatical status is under discussion: Which lexical or functional category do they belong to; where are they located in sentence structure, and what is their exact contribution to sentence meaning?

While some linguists have suggested that modal predicatives constitute a separate lexical category (’part of speech’), others brought arguments against such a view, claiming that they are, in fact, predicatively used members of a traditional category such as adverbs, adjectives, or nouns. The current study argues against neither of these assumptions, but brings forward arguments for combining them: Modal predicatives can indeed be treated as adverbs, but are lexically subclassified insofar as they can only be used as predicate expressions. A subclassifying lexical feature [+Praed] is adopted to be the formal causer of the latter fact, which ultimately amounts to the postulation of a ’new’ lexical subcategory ‚predicatives’.

Furthermore, the usual practice of treating so-called ‚state predicatives’ (предикативы состояния) on a par with modal predicatives is argued against, claiming the former to be true predicative adverbs (predominantly showing an attributive counterpart), but the latter to be ‚raising adverbs’ to be used exclusively as predicate expressions. Under such a view, modal predicatives are both related to predicative adverbs (formally) as well as to modal verbs (semantically). However, they form a category of their own in modern Slavic languages.

Linguistische Beiträge zur Slavistik: XIX. JungslavistInnen-Treffen in Berlin, 16.–18. Dezember 2010. Hg. Luka Szucsich, Natalia Gagarina, Elena Gorishneva und Joanna Leszkowicz. München, Berlin, Washington: Sagner 2012 (Specimina Philologiae Slavicae, 171). 181–194.