Looking for contextual cues to differentiating modal meanings: A corpus-based study
The domain of modality is structurally diverse and may be described in multiple ways (for example, see Perkins, 1983; Wierzbicka, 1987; Hengeveld, 1988/2004; Sweetser, 1990; Bondarko, 1990; Bybee et al., 1994; van der Auwera and Plungian, 1998; Palmer, 2001; Hansen, 2004; Nuyts, 2006; Khrakovsky, 2007). The article reports on the Russian part of a larger survey of Slavic modal words and elucidates the role of formal and semantic context of modal words in a new way. The availability of large corpus data paves the way for study of the empirical reliability of existing classifications originally proposed by philosophers. An important property of the modal words is that they are largely ambiguous, developing new modal meanings both diachronically and from the synchronic point of view.