Distinctions within possibility (Northern Mansi)

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

(1) wōrajan χum-ǝt sāw lēŋen kāt-n patt-uŋkw wērmi-s-ǝt.
hunter man-pl lot squirrel hand-lat lead-inf able-pst.3pl
‘The hunters might have killed a lot of squirrels. / ‘The hunters were able to kill a lot of squirrels 
(because there were a lot of squirrels in the winter).’ (S. D.)

(2) vera uj-uŋkwe χāsi.
Vera swim-inf can.prs.3sg
‘Vera can swim.’ (S. D.)

(3) ti tūr-ǝt pul-uŋkwe rōwi.
this lake-loc swim-inf possible.prs.3sg
‘It is allowed to swim in this lake (because nobody is fishing there). / It is possible to swim in this lake 
(because it’s warm enough).’ (S. D.)

In Northern Mansi, epistemic and situational possibility are overlapping categories. The infinite of the verb + the wērmi ‘able’ auxiliary construction can mark both epistemic and situational possibility (1). The other two constructions, however, can only express epistemic possibility (2)–(3).


Németh Szilvia