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A Possible Worlds Semantic Approach to Nominal Endings as Mood

  • Journal of Humanities, Seoul National University
  • 2022, 79(2), pp.85-121
  • DOI : 10.17326/jhsnu.79.2.202205.85
  • Publisher : Institute of Humanities, Seoul National University
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : April 11, 2022
  • Accepted : May 18, 2022
  • Published : May 31, 2022

Hwang, Hyeondong 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper demorstrates that nominal endings –um and –ki in complement clauses can be explained as mood markers from the point of view of possible worlds semantics. Recently, it has been said that nominal endings are treated as grammatical elements representing the reality status, so that –um is regarded as a realis marker and –ki as an irrealis marker. Most of these arguments are based on the definition of the modality as the speaker’s attitude toward the proposition. However, it seems difficult to explain some sentences with nominal endings properly by this definition. As an approach that can resolve this issue, this paper tried to adopt a possible worlds semantics perspective. According to the possible worlds semantics, modality is defined as speaking based on or talking about situations that do not have to be real and mood can be understood as a grammaticalization of these modal meanings. Mood in complement clauses can be divided into indicative and subjunctive, each of which has an assertive and non-assertive effect. An assertion has the effect of reducing the possible worlds given as a context to fit the utterance by adding new proposition. Based on this, the indicative and the subjunctive are explained as follows. Indicative is motivated in a complement clause if the combination of the head and complement clauses is such that the embedded clause expresses a proposition to the truth of which an agent is committed. Accordingly, the proposition of the corresponding clause has the effect of reducing the subsentential contexts. Subjunctive is motivated in a complement clause if the speaker considers the possibility that there may exist a possible world in which the proposition of the complement clause is false. There is no assertive effect. Based on this approach, if the selection of –um and –ki corresponds to the indicative and subjunctive respectively, it can explain examples that were difficult to explain when viewed as a category of the reality status.

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