Series: Oxford Surveys in Semantics & Pragmatics

This is a book about semantic theories of modality. Its main goal is to explain and evaluate important contemporary theories within linguistics and to discuss a wide range of linguistic phenomena from the perspective of these theories. The introduction describes the variety of grammatical phenomena associated with modality, explaining why modal verbs, adjectives, and adverbs represent the core phenomena. Chapters are then devoted to the possible worlds semantics formodality developed in modal logic; current theories of modal semantics within linguistics; and the most important empirical areas of research. The author concludes by discussing the relation between modality and other topics, especially tense, aspect, mood, and discourse meaning.Paul Portner's accessible guide to this key area of current research will be welcomed by students of linguistics at graduate level and above, as well as by researchers in philosophy, computational science, and related fields.

In The Press

A self-contained monograph, it does not assume much familiarity on the reader's part with modal logic or any major theory of linguistic modality, so that those who have just started exploring modality will find the book very accessible and helpful. On the other hand, experts will find the book an excellent resource to turn to when they want to have a quick brush-up on one theory of modality or another. An authoritative figure on linguistic modality, Portner takes anunimposing position when presenting his own ideas (where applicable). Overall the book is a great pleasure to read.

About The Author

Paul Portner is Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University. He studied philosophy and linguistics at Princeton University and at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where his 1992 PhD dissertation was on Situation Theory and the Semantics of Propositional Expressions. He is editor of Formal Semantics: Essential Readings (Blackwell, 1992) and author of What is Meaning? (Blackwell, 2005). He is currently writing a book onMood, which like the present work will appear in Oxford Surveys in Semantics and Pragmatics.