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Formal Semantics Approach to the Category of Modality in Korean

  • Journal of Humanities, Seoul National University
  • 2022, 79(2), pp.7-38
  • DOI : 10.17326/jhsnu.79.2.202205.7
  • Publisher : Institute of Humanities, Seoul National University
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : April 11, 2022
  • Accepted : May 18, 2022
  • Published : May 31, 2022

Jun, Youngchul 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Most of studies on Korean modality have been done with the descriptive point of view, heavily based on the so-called Lyons’ (1977, p. 452) definition, “the speaker’s attitude on a proposition”. This paper aims to reveal the inadequacy of such a perspective and definition. It also aims to propose an alternative definition of modality as the category which is used to speak about the situations which need not be a part of actuality. The definition reflects our intuition that modal expressions manifest things about the worlds which are not actuality but related to it in a particular sense. This paper shows that the concept of possible worlds is very useful in understanding the characteristics of modality. Furthermore, it demonstrates that formal semantics approach should be appropriate to account for modality because the approach contains possible worlds semantics. The currrent paper emphasizes the role of periphrastic constructions in the category of modality in Korean. The periphrastic constructions offer various modal expressions, indicating a well-organized system of modality. It is found that the contrast of possibility and necessity exists through all the three subcategories of modality: epistemic, deontic, and dynamic modalities. Thus, as formal semantics has efficient methods to treat possible worlds as well as the contrast of possibility and necessity, it apparently provides an explicit explanation of the modal system of Korean periphrastic constructions.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.