PostHeaderIcon Modality As A Semantic Category


Based on the principle of differentiation of levels in linguistic analysis the term mood stands for a syntactic category and modality can be regarded as a semantic term. Thus in the following sample from the paradigm for the Sanskrit word /ksip/ = throw, three moods are distinguished, namely indicative, imperative and potential.

Voice-Active; Number-Singular; Person-1,2 & 3.

Indicative (Pres) Imperative Potential
ksipaami ksipaani ksipeyam
ksipasi ksip ksipes
ksipati ksipatu ksipet

However each of these mood forms can be used to convey a number of different types of messages. For example, the Imperative can be used in the First Person as part of the syntactic device along with a question word /kim/ to ask a question like

(1) kim karvaani te? (What should I do for you?)

One is not justified in positioning an Interrogative Mood for Sanskrit in so far as there is no particular morphological element in the verb characterizing the particular type of message: a question in this case. Instead one should speak of an interrogative message type, where the imperative mood form is used in conjunction with a question word: thee latter explicitly specifying what type of a message is intended.

There is an obvious parallel between mood taken in this sense and tense. Tense, although essentially related to the concept of time is purely a syntactic category.

He is coming now (I can see it).
He is coming next year.

Both of these sentences use the same tense: the present tense. But they refer to two different times, one the actual present and the other, future.

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