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Language and the dominance of modality

Ruthrof, H. (1988) Language and the dominance of modality. Language and Style: An International Journal, 21 (3). pp. 315-326.

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THE QUESTION WHETHER THE LANGUAGE of everyday life is primarily a referential system of notion or a highly modal, intersubjective activity of persuasion and fluid-meaning negotiation is an old one. Aristotle largely favors the former, Plato does clearly the latter. Where Aristotle's mimetic conception places the emphasis on language as a system for the imitation of action, Plato's distinction between logical and emotive language leads him to expel the poet from his ideal state as a liar. He quite rightly suspects that poets cannot be expected to observe modal abstinence but will, if they are worth their salt, make full use of their seductive charm. And even philosophical speech, such as Socrates', is ultimately not condemned by a large and democratic jury for the well-known proposition of impiety and the perversion of young minds, but rather for reasons of rhetoric: his arrogance, contempt, and insults. It is the main purpose of this paper to demonstrate the need for a comprehensive theory of covert modality.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Publisher: Queens College Press
Copyright: 1988 The Author
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