The development of modals of obligation and necessity in white South African English through contact with Afrikaans
Van Rooy, Bertus
MetadataShow full item record
This article draws attention to the uniqueness of modality in White South African English (WSAfE), when compared with other native English varieties. This uniqueness is found in the historical development of the modal category of obligation/necessity since the nineteenth century, as well as in the factors that influence its change. A historical corpus of written WSAfE is used to trace the development of these modals from the 1820s to the 1990s, whereas the International Corpus of English–South Africa (ICE-SA) helps explore contemporary written and spoken WSAfE. The main finding is that the frequency patterns of must and should display a trend toward semantic shifts and increasing polysemy. Must is the highest-frequency modal within its semantic group, and it extends its semantic domain to express median obligation, becoming partly synonymous with should. The prominent contact situation of WSAfE with Afrikaans is suggested to play an important role in the way in which must has developed and is currently used.
- Faculty of Humanities