Библиографическое описание:

Жураева М. М. The usage of modality and modus categories in linguistics // Молодой ученый. — 2014. — №8. — С. 950-952.

Данная статья изучает новый подход лингвистов к терминам «модальность» и «модус», а также представляет анализ теоретической интерпретации этих языковых единиц, основанной на примерах.

In this article we examine the linguists’ new approach to the terms of ‘modality’ and ‘modus’,in the meantime, theoretical interpretation of these speech units will be analyzed as well as explained by examples.

There is a gradual growth of interest to learn foreign languages as well as to research scientific matters concerned with them. Especially, the decree of President of Uzbekistan Republic Islam Karimov ‘On measures to further improve of language learning system’ has intensified much more attention to this field.

From the French and English viewpoint, the investigation of relation between a language and the speech according to the functional aspect of modal category is one of the essential matters.

In this article there is analyzed the new approach of some linguists to the terms of ‘modality’, ‘modus’ and theoretical interpretation about these speech units.

The term ‘Modality’ indicates the circumstance, events, state of affairs; and its various meanings, grammatical characteristics; the usage in different levels of a language makes it peculiar. In the functional plan modality will be expressed by different grammatical, lexical and phraseological devices. (Теория функциональной грамматики, 1990-Theory of functional grammar,1990).

There is different reflection of modality in the sentence and speech. In a certain sentence level they can be divided into objective (ontological) and subjective (pragmatic) limits. Objective modality is concerned with the attitude of content towards the potentiality of a state according to reality and non-reality plan and makes the content of components in the sentence. The attitude of real state with speech units will be clear by the Speaker aimed at certain functions through a discussion. Modality is staked into pragmatic circle and The Speaker’s viewpoint will be expressed through it. (Terre, 2006)

Sometimes Modality can be referred as Subjectivity. There is no a certain concept about objective and subjective modal categories in linguists. (Stepanov, 2004, 241–242). According to T. I. Krasnova, these categories are inseparably related to each other, and we can distinguish them only by theoretical interpretation. (Krasnova 2002, 5)

T. B. Alisova emphasized that the predicative nature of any sentence has two steps: the first is concerned with the attitude of denotata (dictum) subject-predicative; while the second is the claim of a modus-speaker to them. Modal category is the assessment or attitude of the speaker towards that state of affairs, where speaker makes relation between the object and its mark. (Alisova, 1971, 54)

It is certain that, the concept of Modal category was inserted into linguists by SH.Balli. And now it has become the object of the investigation. According to Balli, an explicit sentence consists two parts. First, since it is concerned with the attitudes of a state, circumstance, the author named it as dictum (from Latin dictum- ‘mentioned’). The second covers the main sentence because the sentence would be impossible without it. Especially, the expression of modality is claimed by the Speaker of speech and thus it will come out. Modal verbs, such as to think, to be happy, to want serve to express modality logically and analytically; and their subjects will make modus (Latin modus — ‘shape, way’), then complete dictum’s content (Balli 1955, 44), that is to say dictum refers to what is going on the sentence (state of affairs, circumstance, fact), while modus depicts the attitude of the Speaker towards the news or the potentiality of fact towards the state. Sh. Balli mentioned that the modality can be expressed by Mood category, this case is implicit modality, as it partook within the stated news. (Balli, 1955, 60)

Dictum belongs to the situation of the object, while modus is concerned with the situation of the speech. Dictum refers to the meaning of context, while modus describes the state of our imagination, the attitude of reality towards possibility as well as the attitude of the speaker to the given information. (Gak, 2004, 557–558)

We can say that, modus is about the aim and condition of Speech act. F. Bruno tried to give a range meanings of modus, such as a question (answer, reject), a decision the part of assertion and independent modal meaning, the speakers emotion and will in his works. (Brunot, 1965, 487–910).

From the stated above, we can conclude that linguistic literature can’t give the only certain definition to ‘modus’.

Authors apply to the concept modus in order to study the object of their works. In many cases, modus referred as the particular appearance of modality, that is, as the attitude existed in general subjective-modal plan. M. V. Vsevolodova suggests todistinguish and separate limit of independent modal category (objective and inner semantic) and modus as the category of subjectivite expression based on Speaker’s opinion. This suggestion is very peculiar to the question of modality expressed in a language and the speech.

Another approach assumes to analyze modality under the attitude of modus influence, which is used in a broad sense and staked into ‘modus circle’. (Kobrina 2006, 90–100). Though the attitudes of modality are discussed both in modal and modus aspects, the contradiction between them hasn’t been described certainly. An event can be considered both as modus and modality. For instance, N. D. Artunova describes assertion as ‘axiological modus’, and ‘neutral’ according to its form. (Artunova 1999, 412)

E. M. Wolf emphasizes the usage of lexical devices to express axiology, meanwhile he depicts assertion as ‘modality’; and collects expressive devices (assertive verbs, predicates, positive and negative, opinion verbs) under the term of ‘modus’. (Wolf 2002, 11–80)

The definition of Decision modality reflected as logical one in the works of G. V. Kolshanski. (Kolshanski, 1961, 94–98). During the investigation process of a language in the logical aspect, alethic, deontic, and epistemic modality of discussion and the types of modus related to them are divided into modal operators (shrifts).

V. G. Gak came to the conclusion that ‘modus belongs to the aim and condition of the speech act ’, after analyzing Sh.Balli, T. P. Lomtev, F. Bruno, E. Benvenist, J.Duba, F.Duba-Sharle, B. Pote’s interpretation of the relation between modus and dictum under the matter of grammatical categories.(Gak,2004,558–560)

According to this interpretation, the difference between denotative and modal-communicative aspects of the sentence falls into dictum and modus subdivision. V. G. Gak collects communicative order, reject, actual division, modality, person, determination, emotiveness, apply, and will under the term of modus category. (Gak 1978, 19–26)

N.N Boldirev emphasizes that modus is concerned with the content of a sentence, and Speaker’s thoughts, he describes this category as axiological one. This category is related to the human perception and their reaction to reality according to its nature. (Boldirev, 2005, 38)

O. A. Kobrina divides a modus category into these following communicative categories: assertion, modality, emotiveness, evidence, assumption, assurance, reject, and realizes ‘in the general plan, all modus categories are staked into some scale as they possess linguistic peculiarities to express; therefore they should be divided into separate categories, as well as there should be a certain investigation in the content and expressiveness plan’ (Kobrina 2006, 99)

Modus is an object that makes subjectivity in the content of a sentence, indicating speaker’s attitude towards factual assertion. The opinions of modus are expressed by the speaker. Therefore, modus are versatile, having an implicit or explicit form. Modus can be reflected on dictum, or it would be on the contrary.

The interpretation of modus as stated above are commonly accepted by many scientists, that is, modus is the component of dictum subjective assertion. In the French language, the concept of modus accepts the structure of simple sentence with pronouns. In the Russian language, it remains on lexical — phraseological level.

For instance, O. A. Kobrina analyzed the usage of pronoun Il in impersonal sentences. The results show that, impersonal sentences accept modus as a syntactic unit, meanwhile serve to formulate the only French structure formula IL+V 3sing. There is not any formula of this kind in Russian, that is there is no special formula to express modus. The main difference of Russian from French in expressing modus is the more usage of lexical devices. While translating the impersonal sentences with the pronoun Il into Russian, we will see the following appearance:

Il se peutqu’Alias, demain, me designe pour une autre mission (Antoine de Saint-Exupery). Возможно, что Алиас, завтра, направит меня в другую командировку.

In Russian, we use introductory or sentence to express subjective modal meaning during the translation, because they ‘always define the speaker’s information, indicating his attitude towards reality’. (Русская грамматика, 1980, 329).

During the translation from Russian into French, much more introductory Russian words converted into the only construction of IL pronoun; and French translators follow the concept of syntactic modus.

В деревне, кажется, стали жалеть Мари, по крайней мере, детей уже не останавливали и не бранили, как прежде (Достоевский, с. 71).

Il semblequ'au village on avait fini par prendre Marie en pitié; tout au moins ne défendait-on plus aux enfants de la voir (Dostoievski. T. 1, p. 112).

From the example, it became clear that a Russian word кажется was translated with the construction ‘il semble’. According to the analysis O. A. Kobrina emphasized that, the speech unit continued to consider modus as an object of modality. The subjective meanings of modus enlarged into broad sense, and mean modality.

A Swiss scientist Sh.Balli explained modal construction as following: ‘Any Explicit sentence consists of two parts: one of them is correlative (harmonized) to the process of imagination, we call it ‘dictum’; the second is correlative to operations done by subject, we call it ‘modus’. Modal verb completes modus dictum consisted of modal subject. Modality is the bases of the sentence; it also emerges as the result of active mental activity of subject like a sentence. However, we can’t consider as a sentence if any of modality doesn’t possess meaning. (Balli, 1955, 44)

Balli proved that modality is used more in personal sentences than impersonal one, while analyzing the attitude of modal subject and modal verbs.

According to the examples stated above we shall define modus and dictum as follow:Dictum is concerned with a state of affair, and modus is related to the attitude of the speaker towards state.(His knowledge, doubt, emotion, will and so on.)

Cendrillon est venue. Cendrillon est-elle venue?

Cendrillon n’est pas venue. Cendrillon, viens!

Cendrillon viendra. Je veux que Cendrillon vienne.

Cendrillon viendra, peut-être. Je ne crois pas que Cendrillon vienne.

In conclusion, we paid great attention to the circumstance of the language, because circumstance covers two aspects: the attitude towards the circumstance and a state of speech, which is the aim of conversation. First, dictum clarifies the content of object in nominative sentence; second, modus serves to indicate the aim modal-communicative aspect. In other words, dictum expresses assertion, while modus indicates to different semantic-syntactic variances of it.


1.                  Karimov I.A The decree ‘On Measures to further improve foreign language learning system’ (December 11, 2012)

2.                  Alisova T. B. ‘Complementary relations of the modus and dictum’ 1971. B.54

3.                  Artunova N. D. Language and man’s world. Types of the language meanings. Evaluation. Event. Fact. — М.,1988. — p101.

4.                  Artunova N. D. Language and man’s world Second edition. 1–15 Moscow (Language. Semiotics. Culture.) — М.,1999. –p 412

5.                  Sh.Balli. General linguistics and questions of the French language. –M., Foreign literature, 1955. — p44.

6.                  Boldirev N. N. Category as a form of representatives of the knowledge in language. Conceptual space of the language. — Tambov, 2005. — p38.

7.                  Gak V. G. Theoretical grammar of the French language. M.: Dobrosvet, 2004. -557 –p 60.


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