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Modal Verbs in English and Portuguese


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Štefulić, Lidija. (2011). Modal Verbs in English and Portuguese . Diploma Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Roman Languages and Literature
Department of English Language and Literature. [mentor UNSPECIFIED].

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In this thesis a contrastive analysis of the use of the English modal verbs can, could, may, might, must and have to, and their translation equivalents in European Portuguese has been carried out with the aim of finding out what these two languages have in common and how they differ in the expression of the modal meanings. Sentences in English which contain a modal verb have been contrasted with their Portuguese translations. It has been found that poder is the most common translation equivalent of may and might with root possibility and epistemic possibility meanings; can and could with root possibility, epistemic possibility, request and permission meanings. Conseguir is preferred over poder in the translation of can and could with ability and idiomatic meanings. However, it has also been found that the two verbs (conseguir and poder) are with these two meanings interchangeable. Dever is the equivalent of must with the meaning of epistemic necessity. Ter de is the most common translation equivalent of have to with the meanings of root necessity, epistemic necessity, obligation, and with idiomatic meanings. In the translation examples many different tenses occurred, the reason for this being the Portuguese rules of verb agreement. In some cases this accentuated the meaning of the modal, and in some cases certain shades of the meaning had been lost. Some examples were translated by non-modal means, where the tense used compensated for the meaning of the modal. There were also cases of paraphrases, or free translations, and examples where the modal was omitted in the translation. What can be concluded is that there is no perfect one-on-one correspondence on the formal level in the translation of modal verbs from English into Portuguese, because of the differences in syntactic rules and because of the differences of English and Portuguese modal verbs. On the semantic level, some Portuguese tenses and moods themselves are able to express modal meanings. However, every English modal verb has its most likely equivalent in Portuguese. An interesting finding is the verb conseguir as the most numerous translation equivalent for can and could with ability meaning, which a majority of Portuguese grammarians have not included in their lists of modal verbs.

Item Type: Diploma Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: modalni glagoli, engleski jezik, portugalski jezici
Subjects: English language and literature
Departments: Department of Roman Languages and Literature
Department of English Language and Literature
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2012 12:16
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2014 23:24

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