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The Mandative Subjunctive from 1820 until today - a study of twelve triggers
2002 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor)Student thesis
Abstract [en]

The subjunctive is one of three grammatical moods in the English language. This mood has a questionable position in English today and is often a subject for discussions. Grammarians have difficulties in finding a satisfying description of what it is and what it denotes. They also disagree on its importance in the English language. Some grammarians argue that the subjunctive no longer exists, whereas others claim that it is certainly alive. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the frequency and use of the mandative subjunctive in British and American English from 1820 until today. There is a belief that the modal periphrasis was the most popular way of writing a mandative construction before 1890, and I wanted to see if this was true. Since it is impossible to study all mandative constructions I chose to study the use of the subjunctive after twelve trigger words that are likely to evoke the subjunctive. In order to do this I used several corpora containing both British and American texts. The results of this investigation show that the subjunctive was used occasionally in both British and American English before 1890. I also found that there is an oscillation between the use of the subjunctive and the modal periphrasis in both varieties of English today. However, despite the oscillation the results show that the subjunctive increased to a large extent in the 20th century. The result also show that the indicative is frequently used, and the explanation for this is that it is often found after the trigger insist which may have two different meanings, one that takes the subjunctive and one that mostly takes the indicative.

Abstract [en]

The subjunctive is one of three grammatical moods in the English language. This mood has a questionable position in English today and is often a subject for discussions. Grammarians have difficulties in finding a satisfying description of what it is and what it denotes. They also disagree on its importance in the English language. Some grammarians argue that the subjunctive no longer exists, whereas others claim that it is certainly alive. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the frequency and use of the mandative subjunctive in British and American English from 1820 until today. There is a belief that the modal periphrasis was the most popular way of writing a mandative construction before 1890, and I wanted to see if this was true. Since it is impossible to study all mandative constructions I chose to study the use of the subjunctive after twelve trigger words that are likely to evoke the subjunctive. In order to do this I used several corpora containing both British and American texts. The results of this investigation show that the subjunctive was used occasionally in both British and American English before 1890. I also found that there is an oscillation between the use of the subjunctive and the modal periphrasis in both varieties of English today. However, despite the oscillation the results show that the subjunctive increased to a large extent in the 20th century. The result also show that the indicative is frequently used, and the explanation for this is that it is often found after the trigger insist which may have two different meanings, one that takes the subjunctive and one that mostly takes the indicative.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2002. , 34 p.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-53693Local ID: ENG C-13OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-53693DiVA: diva2:1102253
Subject / course
English
Available from: 2017-05-29 Created: 2017-05-29

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  • apa
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