Modality – Modalization (usuality)

Modalization operates on propositions, in the space between ‘It is…‘ and ‘It isn’t…‘. There are “two kinds of intermediate possibilities: (i) degrees of probability [and] (ii) degrees of usuality” (H & M, p.147). Usuality is “equivalent to ‘both yes and no’, that is, sometimes yes, sometimes no, with different degrees of oftenness attached”. Here is a description of Koala feeding patterns from Australian Wildlife:

They will feed at any time of day, but usually at night.

This demonstrates the two types of orientation for the system of usuality.

1.  Subjective (implicit)

High: It (does) rain.

Medium: It will rain.

Low: It may rain.

2.  Objective (implicit)

High: It always rains.

Medium: It usually rains.

Low: It sometimes rains.

Unlike probability, there is “no systematic form for making the subjective orientation explicit” (H & M, p.619) but it is possible to make the objective orientation explicit with items such as, It’s common for it to rain; It’s usual for it to rain.

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About eflfunc

I'm an EFL teacher in Japan and this is a blog to record some thoughts on using Systemic Functional Linguistics in the foreign language classroom.
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