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Causation in Grammatical Structures$
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Bridget Copley and Fabienne Martin

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199672073

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199672073.001.0001

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Modality and causation

Modality and causation

Two sides of the same coin

(p.152) 7 Modality and causation
Causation in Grammatical Structures

Tatjana Ilić

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents cross-linguistic evidence for a unified semantic treatment of event modality and causation, as proposed in Talmy (1988; 2000). Causation and modality are claimed to involve the same notional concepts of CAUSE and ENABLE, which give rise to two basic causative meanings (causative proper (CAUSE) and permission (ENABLE)), and two basic modal meanings (necessity (CAUSE) and possibility (ENABLE)). The concepts CAUSE and ENABLE are defined using the semantic primitives of control and intentionality, adapting the definitions proposed in Wolff et al.’s (2002) treatment of the theory of force dynamics (Talmy 1988; 2000). Modality is shown to arise in causal chains, as a presupposition naturally accompanying causative meanings. When a causative meaning fails to obtain, the causal chain is interpreted as modal. A series of cross-linguistic evidence is presented to identify the factors determining interpretation of a causal chain as causative or modal.

Keywords:   causation, modality, control, intentionality, event initiation, presuppositions, assertions, actuality entailments

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