Dissertation > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Grammar > Part of speech

English Modal Satellite Adverbs and Modality Supplementing in Discourse

Author XiaoTangJin
Tutor YangXinZhang
School Xiamen University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords modal satellite adverbs modality supplementing interpersonal meanings
CLC H314.2
Type PhD thesis
Year 2007
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This dissertation attempts to explore English modal satellite adverbs (MSAs) as a means of modality supplementing in discourse through a multi-dimension functional approach based on the framework of Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL), in particular, the interpersonal metafunction in discourse. In the research the qualitative and quantitative methods are combined.MSAs are those adverbs that collocate or co-occur with modal verbs and function modally, and include modal adverbs as well as those adverbs that may not serve modal functions under normal circumstances. Because the adverbs in the modality supplementing patterns of modal verb + adverb always act the supporting role as opposed to the central role of modal verbs, they are considered to be satellites.Therefore, the term of MSA is a label both lexicogrammatically and functionally. Modality is generally approached through five angles, namely, truth-condition correspondence, the cognitive approach, the pragmatic approach, functional representation, and SFL. However, MSAs have been neglected. Modality can be expressed through the co-occurrences of modal devices in many situations. Accordingly, the study of MSAs as a means of modality supplementing could be regarded as an extension of the previous research on modality.The previous studies show that modality results from the effects of a number of factors such as cognition, pragmatics and evaluation. It is a pity that a combination of theoretical perspectives has not been adopted in studying modality. This dissertation integrates some useful insights from other linguistic schools in illustrating the roles of MSAs as a means of modality supplementing. It is assumed that cognitive linguistics, pragmatics, and SFL should be combined as a theoretical basis for the study of MSAs. In this theoretical framework a number of cognitive, pragmatic and functional factors are referred to for the explorations of the interpersonal meanings that MSAs convey, including value, stance and social distance.The study illustrates six types of MSAs, namely, limitation, probability & usuality, confidence, clarification, reasoning, and evidence, and three functions that MSAs can perform, i.e. disambiguation of modal vagueness, modal synergy, and prominence of generic features. For each function, a detailed illustration is given. This lays a foundation for the empirical studies on MSAs.This dissertation explores the lexicogrammatical realization of interpersonal meanings by MSAs and conducts empirical studies on MSAs. The corpora findings in four genres, i.e. public speeches (PS), journalistic interviews (JI), academic writings (AW) and laws and regulations (LR), confirm the close relationships between MSAs and interpersonal meanings, and further prove the functions that MSAs can perform, i.e. the disambiguation of modal vagueness, modal synergy and the prominence of generic features. For instance, in AW the MSAs of low and median values in the categories of reasoning and probability & usuality are frequently used. This indicates that academic writers tend to be cautious about the construction of their identities and attempt to strike a balance between solidarity and deference on many occasions. In contrast, in LR the MSAs of high value in the categories of reasoning and evidence occur frequently. These MSAs, though high-valued, offer a justification for the laws and regulations concerned. Therefore, in LR law-makers intend to conceal their authority to some extent but keep a distance from law-recipients; in another word, the interpersonal meaning of hierarchy under the category of social distance is highlighted.The teaching experiment shows the importance of MSAs in argumentative writing where attitudes or judgments have to be taken into account. The pedagogical implications may contribute to the revision or modification of teaching methodology and textbooks in China with regards to the English modality system.A conclusion is drawn in this dissertation that MSAs can play the roles of modality supplementing in performing the functions of the disambiguation of modal vagueness, modal synergy and the prominence of generic features and highlighting the interpersonal meanings of value, stance and social distance.

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