2010

This chapter investigates the semantics of a selection of English modal and semi-modal verbs of obligation-'have to', 'have got to', and 'must'-using the tural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) approach (Goddard & Wierzbicka eds. 2002; Goddard ed., 2008). Standard descriptions rely on technical notions such as necessity and obligation, plus further distinctions such as objective/subjective, participant-interl/participant-exterl, and scalar distinctions such as 'strong' vs. 'weak' (cf. Palmer 1990; van der Auwera and Plungian 1998; Krug 2000; Tagliamonte 2004). In contrast, the present study proposes reductive paraphrase explications framed exclusively in simple words of ordiry language, claimed to be universal semantic primes. The relevance for the field of veridicality can be summarised as follows. First, 'have to' and 'must' are generally characterized in the literature as being associated with an 'objective' vs. 'subjective' effect, respectively, properties connected with both veridicality and stance. The proposed alysis elucidates the ture of this effect. Second, the chapter argues that deontic 'must' contains a component of negative evaluation that is not shared with 'have to', correlated with the perceived greater seriousness of 'must'. Third, it is argued that deontic 'must' includes a desiderative element and that this helps account for distributiol asymmetries with respect to combition with uncertainty operators such as 'maybe'; cf. ?'Maybe I/you must do' it vs. 'Maybe I/you have to do it'. The chapter is illustrated and evidenced with turally occurring examples, from Wordbanks of English and other sources.