1. The WordReference Forums have moved to new forum software. (Details)

Expressing modality ( may, can , must )

Discussion in 'Română (Romanian)' started by J.F. de TROYES, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    francais-France
    I’d need some enlightment on how Romanian expresses uncertainty or probability as English or French do with modal verbs as may, can ,must or pouvoir ( a putea ), devoir ( a trebue ). For example, if I write :
    Trebue să vină mâine
    does it have the only meaning of he must come to-morrow, i.e. it’s necessary for him to come or can this sentence possibly mean : He may come, i.e. he’ll probably come or in French : il doit venir demain ? I suppose it’s not possible. So how to say :

    It may rain this afternoon

    By using a putea like in French : Il peut ( poate ) pleuvoir demain ?


    Mulţu mesc .
     
  2. Calin.a New Member

    Italian
    "Trebuie sa vină mâine" can mean both "he must come tomorrow" and "he should come tomorrow". If you want to say that he should come and be even more precise, you can use the conditional of the verb: "Ar trebui să vină mâine". In this case the verb does express anymore something that is imperative, but more or less the uncertainity: he should come tomorrow, he is supposed to come tomorrow etc.
     
  3. farscape mod-errare humanum est

    Ottawa, Canada
    Romanian
    (I'm writing during a 5 minute break... )

    This means you want the (thing) there, there is no (little) doubt in your mind that it has to happen; see also the examples below.

    S-ar putea să plouă mâine

    Oare o să vină el mâine? -> I'm wondering if he's going to come tomorrow?
    Trebuie să vină mâine, altfel nu se poate -> He must come tomorrow, there's no other way
    Trebuie să vină mâine, dacă vrea cartea -> He has to come tomorrow if he wants the book

    Later,
    .
     
  4. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    francais-France
    My Romanian is really poor ; so excuse me for these questions . Could you confirm that a putea is used here in the reflexive form ? In that case French can use the same structure , it's also possible to express the same meaning ( possibility ) with pouvoir ( a putea ) without a reflexive pronoun or even in the indivative mood. What about Romanian ? Would the following sentences be correct or not ? :

    Ar putea să plouă mâine or Putea să plouă mâine .

    Mulţumesc
     
  5. misadro

    misadro Senior Member

    The question is very complex if we are to include the three languages .. A good topic for a doctor's degree ...
    To choose the easiest way out :

    Possiblity/Probablility in the present/future
    Poate să plouă ..
    Se poate să plouă ..

    Ar putea să plouă ..

    In the past :
    Putea să plouă ...
    Ar fi putut să plouă ...
    Era să plouă ... etc. etc. etc..
     
  6. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    francais-France
    I see that verbel phrases expressing possibility /probablility are numerous and close to those used in French.

    As I am currently studying auxiliaries and modal verbs in Romance languages ( as a mere amateur linguist ! ) , your information is of a great interest to me.

    Thanks a lot for your enlightment, Calin.a, Farscape and Misadro.
     
  7. farscape mod-errare humanum est

    Ottawa, Canada
    Romanian
    You are welcome :) We're always glad and eager to answer grammar questions :D

    Later,
    .
     
  8. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    Dear J.F. de Troyes,

    As far as I know, our language does not possess modal verbs as in English, therefore, the verbs "a putea" , "a trebui" are not considered AUXILIARIES in Romanian. They are lexical verbs, so in: "S-ar putea / să plouă" you have two sentences with 2 different PREDICATES and NO SUBJECTS because the verbs we are talking about are IMPERSONAL in this case.
    The 2nd question is about 's-'. This is not an easy question. I, for one, wait for others to provide an honest answer to this catchy 's-'. We could simply say: "Ar putea să plouă" (indicative mood, you are right) and it would be perfectly correct! Why, on Earth, do we say: "S-ar putea să plouă" (reflexive mood) ?! Usually, we like to make things harder on us. Anyway, it is a reflexive indeed without any syntactic function. Grammar says this not me. I would have said to drop it in this case. More, I do not see any reflexivity here, but I am not in the Academy Staff to make the rules. Similar cases of this type of impersonal verbs mixing with our Latin 'se' are: "se întunecă" - "It's getting dark" , "se aude" - "One can hear...", "se pare" - "It seems...", "se luminează" - "It's dawn" etc.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
  9. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    Dear J.,

    In point of degrees of certainty or uncertainty, again, I think we do not possess such analytical thinking as the English do. Examples you have provided might provoke debates about how we, Romanians, do or do not possess attitude and control towards the way we express our thoughts and opinions. For instance, in "It may rain", there is also a strong belief of the one who's saying this that it will rain without having any doubts about this. In "It might rain", the situation is changing about the teller's /speaker's certainties on weather (epistemic modality = degrees of certainty). But, "S-ar putea să plouă" and "Se poate să plouă", these two utterances, I do not believe that they imply sm's trong opinion that he or she might have about the weather conditions. Anyway, I have always thought that there is such a feeble distinction between possibility (a good chance to be true) and probability (less true or one of many chances to be valid), that most people do not sense it or might not even be aware of. I may be wrong on this.
    About "trebuie să vină" - "he must come", there may be another inference here: It is the speaker's hope about his or her arrival. This is mostly a contextualization issue with a deontic value. I wonder whose truth is here?
    see you,
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
  10. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    francais-France
    Thanks a lot for your comments

    Yes, I agree with your arguments to say these verbs are definitively not auxiliaries in such sentences. But what about the verb a putea if followed by an infinitive ( Grammars give two constructions : poate veni mâine and poate să vină mâine. I don’t know if the first is unusual or specific to the written language ; if not , the stucture is akin to how English modal auxiliaries may and can are used ( or the verbs called semi-auxiliaries in French ) ?


    I tend to believe that originally the use of the indicative or the optative conveys a strong difference in the degree of certainty as the grammatical opposition indicative vs optative reflects the epistemic opposition reality and certainty vs unreal and uncertainty. But when modal verbs are concerned the opposition is weakened because in that case the only meaning of the verb ( its lexicality ) , with possibly some other words as adverbs being added, is partly or totally sufficient to express a degree in the modality. Latin modal verbs as possum, debeo, oportet can be perfectly used in the indicative withe meaning of a conditional.




     
  11. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    "Yes, I agree with your arguments to say these verbs are definitively not auxiliaries in such sentences. But what about the verb a putea if followed by an infinitive ( Grammars give two constructions : poate veni mâine and poate să vină mâine. I don’t know if the first is unusual or specific to the written language ; if not , the stucture is akin to how English modal auxiliaries may and can are used ( or the verbs called semi-auxiliaries in French ) ?"


    The 2 constructions you have provided are different in point of syntax, the first one with the short infinitive ( "Poate veni") is about 1 sentence. While the 2nd example points to two predicates, that is, 2 sentences. The infinitive and the 'conjunctive' moods differ in point of unpredicative vs predicative characteristics and not in point of written vs oral forms. Semantically speaking, they refer to permission, possessing a modal value because of the verb 'can'. Watch this one, 'Poate vine' (2 fully predicates) and its similar variant 'Poate că vine' may also point to possibility. In point of semi-lexical or semi-auxiliary attributes, our language does not work with half measures. I think the main idea is that 'can' in my language is fully lexical, and transitive, if the topic is still about it. I also think that particular usage of conjunctions 'să' and 'că' could lead us to a correct answer when we wonder what the meaning is.
    The expression "Nu are cine veni." is more puzzling to me since it means "No one can come" or "no one will come" and it is analysed purely formal in my language, split into two sentences, instead of deciding that it expresses a single idea with a single action in a folk future ['are să vie' (folklore) - 'va veni'(standard)].Whom to contradict?
    You are perfectly right about the opposition ind. vs optative, in fact, the latter is optional, - I'm joking! It's funny to notice that, semantically speaking, we can be as difficult in understanding the exact meaning of a context as English can be. It's like the 'never ending' English debate on 'active or passive' in "Ice is melting" or 'reflexive vs passive' in Romanian, "Gheața se topește".
    In point of Latin, I cannot express any opinion since I am not a fan.
    See you,
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2013
  12. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    francais-France
    I am afraid I didn’t make it plain . I wanted to ask two questions :


    1. Is either construction usual and interchangeable in the spoken and written language ?
    2. As the construction with an infinitive is uncommon, I was wondering if a putea could’nt be considered an auxiliary . You have clearly answered this question.




    Do you mean that poate veni or poate să vină expresses permission while Poate vine or Poate că vine denotes possibility or can all these constructions convey permisson and possibility , according to the context ?




    I do understand that a putea is ranked among lexical verbs , but it seems to me that transitivity implies a direct object and first a noun . Do you consider the infinitive a direct object ? ( Sorry if this looks a bit off-topic :))
     
  13. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    Yes, the infinitive is a DO. Transititvity in my language does not ask for a noun or pronoun only.
     
  14. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    In point of semantics, as I said, there is only permissive in the first pair of examples I gave, indeed, they express only permission while the 2nd - only possibility. We do not analyse language this way. Modality is not a grammatical category in my language. It may be taught in books or courses of Semantics, but I am not convinced that there is such a course. I know for sure that a book on Semantics in Romanian and about my language you cannot find! I have seen attempts to consider modality within the VERB analysis but they are not too convincing and they lack elaboration.
    To conclude, what I have said about modality related to my language expresses my own opinion as a native speaker and, of course, having a proficient basis.
    See you,
     
  15. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    To be honest, the infinitive is a non-predicative mood with notional characteristics, having 2 forms: a)the long one with 'a', eg 'a cânta', 'a desena'; this one also is related to a nominal aspect: 'cântarea', 'vorbirea', 'amintirea', all these in the Singularia Tantum. b) the short one, without 'a': 'Poate veni'.
    You have questions about transitivity here. We have 2 non-predicative verbs with notional attributes: the infinitive, and the supin. This means that they can have the attributes of a noun on the syntactic level. It depends on the context we use. But only the infinitive can be DO.
    See you,
     
  16. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    About your question if the 2 variant belong to written or oral form anf if they are interchangeable, yes they are interchangeable.
     
  17. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    francais-France
    Thanks a lot for having shared your proficiency. You make al these points clearer to me.
     
  18. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    Please do not take the word 'proficiency' ad-litteram. I only referred to me as being a native.
    I would ask for help in French to a French native to clarify myself and not to an English one. That was my idea when using that word.
     
  19. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    francais-France
    You're welcome :)
     

Share This Page