9.2. THE MODAL NET

We have considered two sides of a hypothetical fruit. Let us now think if we could arrive at the theory “net weight”: when we people make theories, it is usually to get to something real.

Let us compare our real time and Modal frame: to guess if something could be good or bad, possible or uncanny, we may not always look to a clock, or depend on time of day.

45. I can see a theory fruit.

The fruit is theory, but in grammar as well as everyday life, human ability to see by standard does not refer to the PRESENT only, so our language will give the thought an open frame: the ability is not only for the PRESENT.

46. I see a theory fruit.
The time reference is singular, it is ON our cognitive ground for the grammatical PRESENT.

47. I have seen a theory fruit.
The time reference embraces a span from another mark in time TO the grammatical PRESENT. The frame is open.

Let us compare the real-time and Modal frames: the Modal may not tell between the real-time variables {TO} and {ON}.

Aspect Perfect

48. Maybe we HAVE learned something good.
REAL-TIME VARIABLE {TO}

Aspect Simple

48a. Maybe we learned something good.
REAL-TIME VARIABLE {ON}

48b. We MAY HAVE / MIGHT HAVE learned something good.
MODAL FRAME CLOSED ON OBJECT OF THOUGHT

Modal phrases will keep the real-time value {IN}, yet close as usual. Let us mind we made our real-time variable {AT} of merged variables {IN} & {TO}.

Aspect Progressive

49. Maybe we ARE learning something good.
REAL-TIME VARIABLE {IN}

Aspect Perfect Progressive

49a. Maybe we HAVE BEEN learning something good.
REAL-TIME VARIABLE {AT}

49b. We MAY HAVE / MIGHT HAVE been learning something good.


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We could say the Modal frame does not keep the real-time spans of the variable (TO); it lets balance the variables {ON} and {IN}.

We can call this our Modal net. We net (nullify as non-essential) the Perfect, our variable {TO}. Our syntactic HAVE can work as a time anchor then.
It will look a linguistic device, if we think about theory as compared with knowledge of what happens — in possible, ordinary talk.

50. You COULD HAVE been more careful with the handle.
50a. I was. Someone else MUST HAVE broken it off.

In examples 50 and 50a, auxiliary HAVE does not bring in any time span, as from one time to another. Let us compare,

50b. I HAVE been careful with this handle since the very first time I saw it.

A closed Modal frame may be interpreted for a suggestion that something did not happen.

51. We COULD HAVE gone for a walk yesterday, we had enough time, but Jim came in, and we stayed to study.
(We didn’t go.)

In fact, we happen to close the frame along with the think or talk time, as to reach the decision:

51a. We COULD HAVE gone for the walk, so we took the opportunity.
(The Modal frame is closed on the time we talked for consensus; we went for the walk.)

We may tend to leave the frame open for ability.

51b. We had enough time yesterday, and we COULD go for a walk; it was lovely.
(We went.)

51c We had plenty of time yesterday, and we COULD go to the movies, we COULD go for a walk, or we COULD go see Jill. But Jim came in and brought those books we didn’t have so we stayed to study. Jill joined in.
(We didn’t go.)

A generative grammar is not about looking to what has been already written or spoken and repeating after that. A generative grammar looks to how we can think and talk.
For example, we may like to associate the grammatical article and the time frame: if we COULD go for a walk, or COULD HAVE gone for the walk, part three of the language journey has the grammatical article: our theory fruit does have a stalk.

a / the _stalk

Now and here, let us mind there is always the Negative.
50c. It COULDN’T HAVE been anyone else near the handle, yesterday.
50d. I knew I COULDN’T repair it, and I left it alone.

Let us now think about Modality and main grammatical time.
52. We have enough time; we COULD go for a walk today.
52a. We are going to have the time; we COULD go for a walk tomorrow.
52b. We had the time yesterday, so we COULD go for a walk.

We may picture our linguistic devices so far as in a toolkit. Let us remember the syntactic expansion from ■→SUBCHAPTER 8.1, our earthling basic cognitive variable. Feel also welcome to ■→GRAMMAR VISUALS.

“Full gear”, we know the grammatical time from context. We may learn more with Reported Speech.
53. There is time enough; we could go for a walk, the PRESENT.
53a. There was time enough; we could go for a walk, the PAST.

Please mind, our devices are linguistic tools. We do not follow the term of the “language acquisition device”, for human brains. We stay with human language faculties.

Our auxiliary HAVE is always green, whether it brings an open or closed frame: we mark only auxiliary and head verbs — grammar anyway requires thinking, and it would not be a good idea to get dependent on crayons.

Let us get to a few more details on Modal structures:
■→SUBCHAPTER 9.3. DETAIL ON MODAL STRUCTURES

■→This text is also available in Polish.


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■ the Simple, Progressive, and Perfect;
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■ the Affirmative, Interrogative, Negative, and Negative Interrogative;
■ irregular verbs and vowel patterns: high and low, back and front.
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The world may never have seen her original handwriting, if her skill was taken for supernatural. Feel welcome to Poems by Emily Dickinson prepared for print by Teresa Pelka: thematic stanzas, notes on the Greek and Latin inspiration, the correlative with Webster 1828, and the Aristotelian motif, Things perpetual — these are not in time, but in eternity.
■→Free access, Internet Archive
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PSYCHOLINGUISTICS, LINGUISTICS,
& TRANSLATION


■→teresapelka.com
■→teresapelka-in-polish.com

Internet Archive, the free text and image repository

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