Cross-linguistic variation in modality systems: The role of mood
The St'át'imcets (Lillooet Salish) subjunctive mood appears in nine distinct environments, with a range of semantic eects, including weakening an imperative to a polite request, turning a question into an uncertainty statement, and creating an ignorance free relative. The St'át'imcets subjunc- tive also diers from Indo-European subjunctives in that it is not selected by attitude verbs. In this paper I account for the St'át'imcets subjunctive using Portner's (1997) proposal that moods restrict the conversational background of a governing modal. I argue that the St'át'imcets subjunctive restricts the conversational background of a governing modal, but in a way which obli- gatorily weakens the modal's force. This obligatory modal weakening — not found with Indo-European non-indicative moods — correlates with the fact that St'át'imcets modals dier from Indo-European modals along the same dimension. While Indo-European modals typically lexically encode quantifi- cational force, but leave conversational background to context, St'át'imcets modals encode conversational background, but leave quantificational force to context (Matthewson, Rullmann & Davis 2007, Rullmann, Matthewson & Davis 2008).