This article covers the author’s attempt to define lexical means of expressing irreality.
Key words: irreality, lexical means, adverbs.
Vocabulary is another fundamental source of expressing unreal situations and in most cases these are explicit means. The meaning of irreality in the English language can be conveyed by using nouns, adjectives and pronouns (indefinitely personal and negative), as well as stable phrases and phraseological phrases used in their meaning. [1, 315]
It is widely known that nouns themselves cannot function on the level of the whole proposition they take part in. But they can denote the abstract concepts behind modality and their different elements. In constructions with verbs with more or less auxiliary function such nouns can even replace modal verbs. As part of a prepositional phrase, they can replace modal adverbs. A basic feature of such ‘modal nouns’ is the ability to take infinitive constructions or even embedded clauses as complements. In such a case these nouns usually play two roles: 1) they refer to the proposition as whole (in an anaphoric manner similar to pronouns), and 2) they project modality (the type denoted by their meaning) into the proposition, at the same time. If the proposition is given only in the form of an infinitive construction, the subject of it is also being controlled by the noun.
Modal nouns express likelihood, necessity, chance, likelihood, degree, necessity, possibility, capacity, requirement, request etc.
For example: There is a chance that you will be expelled from school, if you won’t finish the project on time.
The next part of speech, which is widely used to express irreality is adjective. The adjective expresses the quality of an object / person / phenomenon and are followed by a noun or is preceded by a verb (to be or similar). In such combinations the adjective can either express irreality with its own meaning or strengthen the unreal meaning of the preceding or following word. The following adjectives are included in the lexical-semantic field of unreality (incredible):
The following adjectives are included in the lexical-semantic field of unreality (incredible):
aerial — related to air (therefore, which cannot be seen or touched → unreal)
anecdotic — incredible, unbelievable
artificial — not natural, false
beyond belief — incredible
chimerical — not existing in real life
conceptual — abstract
counterfeit — fabricated
deceptive — misleading
delusive — illusory
dreamlike — unreal
dreamy — unreal
fabled — fabulous
fancied — fanciful
fantastic — fantastical
fictitious — imaginary
hallucinatory — imagined
hypothetical — suppositional
ideal — illusive
illusory — imaginative
impossible — improbable
inconceivable — incredible
insubstantial — invented
misleading — deceptive
mythical — nonexistent
phantasmagorial — phantasmal
visionary — whimsical
Modality can also be emphasized by the adjectives including such words as able, advisable, anxious, bound, concerned, crucial, desirable, essential, fitting, imperative, important, likely, necessary, possible, supposed, sure, vital, and willing. They breed modal contexts of different degrees, depending on how the speaker or writer understands the situation. [2, 244]
For example: It would be desirable to reach the conference as soon as it was possible.
They were likely to spend the vacation in French Riviera.
It is however necessary to understand the whole responsibility that falls on you after agreeing their terms and conditions.
Now let’s turn our attention to the adverbs, which are a heterogeneous class of words. First of all, they vary greatly in their structure. Some of them are simple words (here, well, why), others are formed using the suffix — ly(slowly, happily), others are complex words (nowhere, downstairs, afterwards), fourth are whole phrases (at first, all of a sudden, the day after tomorrow). Probably, it is the adverbs that get most of the attention in English grammar. It does not even fit any proper definitions and to some grammarians the term ‘adverb’ is problematic, some of them do not use this term, they use terms ‘intensifier’ or ‘adjunct’, instead. [3, 106]
Adverbs are also very diverse in meaning, so they are divided into subclasses:
1) adverbs of time — now, then, yesterday, soon, recently, etc;
2) an adverb of frequency — often, sometimes, ever, constantly, etc;
3) adverbs places and directions — here, everywhere, below, inside, abroadetc;
4) adverbial modifier of manner — badly, quickly, suddenly, deeply, willingly, dryly, etc;
5) adverbs of degree — very, highly, perfectly, completely, much, too, so, little, enough, etc;
6) adverbs of consequence and cause — therefore, consequently, as a result, etc.
7) adverbs, expressing a point of view — Theoretically, Personally, economically, Technically, Financially, etc;
8) interrogative adverbs — when, where, how and why, involved in the formation of questions;
9) modal adverb — certainly, of course, surely, really, indeed, perhaps, possibly, evidently, doubtfully, unsurely, uncertainly, impossibly, etc;
10) negative adverbs — never, nowhere, hardly, barely, scarcely, seldom, rarely.
Thus, the lexical means expressing irreality are defined by a wide range of words referred to different parts of speech. As opposed to grammar means they are more often to express unreal meaning implicitly or with a combination of grammar constructions.
- Givon, T. English grammar: a function based introduction. / vol. I. — Amsterdam, Philadelphia: Benjamins Publ. Co., 1993. — 315 p.
- Khomutova, T. N. Mood and Modality in Modern English / Social and Behavioral Sciences 154. — M: Procedia, 2014. — 401 p.
- Бархударов, Л. С. Грамматика английского языка: учебник для студентов институтов и факультетов иностранных языков.— М: Издательство литературы на иностранных языках, 1960. — 422 c.