Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 9 : 10 October 2009
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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The Core Functions of the Hindi Modals -
Speech Act Approach

Prashant Mishra, M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.


Kachru (1966), Van Olphen (1970), Singh (1978) and Arya (1979) explored Modality in Hindi and used the formal and semantic criteria for studying Hindi Modals. Like English, in Hindi too, Modals cover a large number of semantic categories - permission, obligation, wish, possibility, promise, threat, offer etc. Austin (1962), Searle (1969), Halliday (1970) and Leech (1983) contributed to the Functional Approach and believe that utterances cannot be confined to mere linguistic acts but perform various communicative acts and functions depending on the social contexts in which they are used by the interlocutors.

This paper analyses the data on a four-point scale using the following parameters: 1.Meaning 2.Illocutionary Act 3.Illocutionary Function and 4. Attitude of the Speaker. It makes an attempt to apply the Speech Act approach to the study of Modals in Hindi. The Study concludes that Modals in Hindi not only express multiple notional categories but also perform multiple illocutionary acts and functions.

Key Words: Modals, Illocutionary Act, Illocutionary Function, Semantics, Pragmatics


Unlike English, not much scholarly attention has been paid to modality in Hindi. However, recently some Hindi grammarians like Kachru (1966), Van Olphen (1970) and Amar Bahadur Singh (1978) explored this category in Hindi. There seems to be considerable disagreement among scholars on the list of Hindi modals. Based on the available scholarly material, my attempt in this section is to focus on auxiliary verbs that function as modals in Hindi.

Yamuna Kachru (1966) recognises 'sak' and 'cuk' as the only modals in Hindi. However in her later study she rejected 'cuk' and included 'pa?' and 'c?hiye' in her list of modal verbs.

Van Olphen (1970) identifies only three modals in Hindi 'sak', 'p?' and 'cuk'.

Amar Bahadur Singh (1978:184) grouped auxiliaries in Hindi into temporal and non-temporal categories. Modals like 'ho / hot?' which represents contingent / unreal belongs to the temporal whereas modals like 'p?' and 'sak', representing accomplishment and ability respectively, belong to the non-temporal group. Apart from temporal and non-temporal categories, Singh also talks about a third category called obligatory. He puts it under the non-temporal class. 'c?hiye' representing a moral idea and 'hai' and 'pa?' representing compulsion are treated under this category. But Singh does not recognise obligatory as a modal category (1978:185).

Arya (1979) discussed the works of the above-mentioned grammarians and used the notional and syntactic criteria for the identification and classification of modals in Hindi. He rejected 'cuk' as a modal auxiliary and regarded it as an aspect marker in Hindi. Arya included 'g?' in his list of modals as it is ambiguous in use in the same manner as the other epistemic modals 'sak' and 'c?hiye' are used. 'g?' like 'sak' and 'c?hiye' refers to the event of the proposition in the past, present and future. It can be used with both past and non-past tenses. 'cuk' fails to pass the test of ambiguity and functions only as an aspect marker along with the modal auxiliary (1979:336). Hence it does not find a place in Arya's list of modal auxiliaries in Hindi. Arya included 'g?', 'sak', 'c?hiye', 'pa?' and 'p?' in his list of modals.

Controversy regarding inventory apart, we propose to discuss in detail the functions of modal auxiliaries recognised by Arya in his work as his list is based on both the semantic and the syntactic analyses of these verbs. We believe that various semantic categories like permission, obligation, wish, possibility, promise, threat etc. are universal in nature and, therefore, are found in both the two languages under investigation. However, these notional categories which are manifested through the formal means of modal auxiliaries are often influenced by various sociological and pragmatic factors. We, therefore, propose to confine our study to the functional aspect of these modal auxiliaries only.

The Speech Act Approach

All the earlier approaches to the study of language confined their studies to the semantic and formal aspect of language. Traditional grammar defined some grammatical categories on the basis of their meaning and some on the basis of their forms and functions. Nouns, verbs, tense, number, gender and modals are the various grammatical categories which have been treated by using semantic criterion whereas adjectives and adverbs are the grammatical categories which have been defined using functional criterion.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Spelling Variations in Kannada | A Survey of the State of the Art in Punjabi Language Processing | The Representation of Homosexuality - A Content Analysis in a Malaysian Newspaper | Noun Reduplication in Tamil and Kannada | Journey of Self-discovery in Anita Nair's Ladies' Coupé | A Study of Communicability and Intelligibility of Advertisements in Tamil With Special Reference to Tooth Paste and Health Drink | Explicit Grammar Instruction | Teaching English as a Second Language Using Communicative Language Teaching - An Evaluation of Practice in India | Discovering Values in English Language Teaching | The Core Functions of the Hindi Modals - Speech Act Approach | Textbook Analysis of English for Engineers | Cross-Professional Collaboration on E-Learning Courses | Reading Arundhati Roy's Fiction The God of Small Things Through Her Non-Fiction | Teaching English through Indian Writing in English in Rural India | Proverbs in Modern Tamil and Telugu Societies | Using Problem Based Learning Technique in Teaching English Grammar | Problems in Reading Comprehension Skills among Secondary School Students in Yemen | The Literary Value of the Book of Isaiah | Will Sentences Have Divergence Upon Translation? : A Corpus-Evidence Based Solution for Example Based Approach | HOME PAGE of October 2009 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Prashant Mishra, M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.
Department of English
Government S.V. P. G. College
Neemuch 458 441
Madhya Pradesh, India

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