LingLunch : C. Gianollo & M. Benedetti

Jeudi 07 Octobre 2021, 12:00 to 13:00
Karen De Clercq et Ira Nowek (LLF)

En ligne

Chiara Gianollo (Università di Bologna) & Marina Benedetti (Università per Stranieri di Siena)
The dynamic modal reading of knowledge verbs in Ancient Greek

Synchronically, it is often observed that verbs indicating knowledge (knowledge of propositions - ?know that?) can also have a dynamic modal reading (knowledge as ability -?know how?), e.g. French savoir, Italian sapere, Modern Greek ksérõ, Russian umet'. Typically, this reading is associated to specific complementation patterns, involving forms of syntactic restructuring. Diachronically, processes of grammaticalization may apply, as in the well-known case of English can, originating from a verb meaning ?know? (cunnan); this grammaticalization path from knowledge verbs to modal verbs is well-attested crosslinguistically (Bybee et al. 1994, van der Auwera & Plungian 1998, Heine & Kuteva 2002: 186, Gisborne 2007).

We investigate the properties of knowledge verbs in Ancient Greek, which also display dynamic modal readings,  in order to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the semantic and syntactic conditions that enable modal uses of knowledge verbs in Ancient Greek? We will see that there is a specific correlation with the form of complementation.
  2. Why do precisely these conditions lead to the emergence of the modal reading? Do we reach conclusions that can be generalized cross-linguistically in this respect?
  3. Do the modal uses emerge diachronically as a step on a grammaticalization path lexical verb > functional (modal) verb? Or are they rather a stable feature of the language, to be explained by the co-existence of certain structural prerequisites?