Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Irrealis mood and non-finite verbs

From:Campbell Nilsen <cactus95@...>
Date:Saturday, March 29, 2008, 18:21
So, for example, I assume that the subjunctive is an example of the irrealis?

"Define 'cynical'."-M. Mudd

----- Original Message ----
From: R A Brown <ray@...>
Sent: Saturday, March 29, 2008 3:41:00 AM
Subject: Re: Irrealis mood and non-finite verbs

David J. Peterson wrote:
> Campbell wrote: > << > What's irrealis mood? > >> > > Though I'm rather ambivalent about SIL, this is a start: > > <>
David Crystal (A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics) has: {quote} *realis* In LINGUISTICS, a term used in the study of EPISTEMIC MODALITY: in a *realis* ('real') assertion, a proposition is strongly asserted to be true, the speaker being ready to back up the assertion with evidence or argument. It is opposed to an *irrealis* ('unreal') assertion, where the proposition is weakly asserted to be true, but the speaker is not ready to support the assertion ... {/quote} Thomas Payne (Describing Morphosyntax) has in the section where he discusses Mode (i.e. 'mood'): {quote} A prototypical realis mode strongly asserts that a specific event or state of affairs has actually happened, or actually holds true. A prototypical irrealis mode makes no such assertion whatsoever. Irrealis mode does not necessarily assert that an event did not take place or will not take place. It simply makes no claims with respect to the actuality of the event or situation described. {/quote} Larry Trask (A Dictionary of Grammatical Terms in Linguistics), however, says of _irrealis_ {quote} A label often applied in a somewhat _ad hoc_ manner to some distinctive grammatical form, most often a verbal inflection, occurring in some particular language and having some kind of connection with unreality. Palmer (1986) recommends that this term should be avoided in linguistic theory on the ground that it corresponds to no consistent content. {/quote} My own personal view of the matter is very much in line with Trask's. The two words are, of course, simply the late Latin words for 'real' (realis) and 'unreal' (irrealis) - the masc./fem. form is used used presumably because we are to 'understand' the noun _modus_ (mode, mood), i.e. realis [modus], irrealis [modus]. But IME the terms are used, when they are used, somewhat _ad hoc_ and are language specific. In my view, the terms should not be used simply for the sake of using them, but only if they are helpful in describing the morphosyntax of a particular language, in which case the terms should be clearly defined in the description of that language. This presumably is why David wrote (28th March): {quote} *I* defined it for myself as something that has not (or is not) actually happening. This would include something happening in the future (even if it will definitely happen), something that might have happened, something one wants to happen, something that would have happened, etc. I lumped all those together and labeled them "irrealis" for the purposes of Sidaan. Not all languages do the same, and I don't believe this is exactly how the term is used by linguists. {/quote} That is, David finds it useful in the description of Sidaan, and he _defines what he means by it_. Note, he also adds: "Not all languages do the same' - very true. -- Ray ================================== ================================== Frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora. [William of Ockham]


R A Brown <ray@...>