Modala hjälpverb i språkhistorisk belysning
In this thesis, the syntactic and morphological characteristics of modal verbs in Swedish have been investigated in order to identify and examine the changes these verbs have undergone. The survey was conducted as a quantitative comparative study in corpus-based materials from both medieval and contemporary Swedish texts. The results show that some of the characteristic properties of modal verbs are connected to the origin of the verbs and to different language changes, e.g. that the verbs occur without the infinitive marker, while others are related to their development into more typical auxiliary verbs, i.e. losing their ability to be used independently. In order to define the category of modal verbs, a combination of several criteria is required. The weighting of the criteria is important, as is to which extent a verb must fulfill a criterion in order to count as a modal verb. The results also show that the verbs evolve towards being more and more grammatical words. In this grammaticalization process, some of the changes apply to all verbs and are therefore predictable, whereas others apply only to certain verbs. A comparison with modal verbs in other Germanic languages shows many similarities, which follow from their common origin in a Germanic inflection category called preterite-present verbs. The modal verbs have undergone similar changes in the different languages, but at different rates. In addition the verbs have, in varying degrees, been affected by other language changes. Keywords: Modal verbs, auxiliaries, modality, preterite-present verbs, Germanic languages, infinitive marker, language change, grammaticalization, Swedish.
Doctor of Philosophy
Göteborgs universitet. Humanistiska fakulteten
University of Gothenburg. Faculty of Arts
Department of Swedish ; Institutionen för svenska språket
Lördagen den 20 september 2014 kl. 10, Lilla hörsalen, Humanisten, Renströmsgatan 6.
Date of defence