Distinctions within possibility (Hungarian)

PsblSit~Ep: Situational and epistemic possibility are partially distinguished in terms of verbal modality.

(1) szilvi még valószínűleg ébren van.

Szilvi still probably awake cop.prs.3sg

’Szilvi is probably still awake.’

(2) szilvi még olvas-hat ilyenkor.

Szilvi still read-pot around_this_time

’Szilvi could still be reading at this time.’ =

1. ‘It is possible that Szilvi is reading.’

2. ‘Szilvi is allowed to read at this time of day.’

(3) itt lehet úsz-ni.

here possible swim-inf

‘You can swim here.’ (It is allowed or possible.)

(4) blanká-nak szabad énekel-ni-e.

Blanka-dat may sing-inf-3sg

‘Blanka may sing.’ (She is allowed to sing.)

In Hungarian, epistemic modality is expressed by modal adverbs (1) and sentence adverbs (Kiefer 2007: 321‒322). The -hat/-het derivational suffix (2) can mark situational and epistemic possibility (Kugler 2012), just as the lehet + infinitive construction. The tud ‘can’, szabad ‘may’ + infinitive constructions express situational possibility.


Nikolett F. Gulyás