Two constructions of possibility in Ossetic.

2013. №2, 99-120


The article is a corpus-based study of two modal constructions in Iron Ossetic; both of them are not mentioned in standard grammars. One of the constructions conveys participant-external possibility and the other one – participant-internal possibility (in terms of [van der Auwera, Plungian 1998]). I examine morpho-syntactic and semantic peculiarities of the constructions and compare them to the Russian dative-infi nitive construction. I also consider grammatical means for participantexternal and participant-internal possibilities in other Caucasian and Iranian languages and propose grammaticalization paths of the Ossetic possibility constructions. The typological value of the discovered Ossetic constructions is a grammatical opposition of participant-internal possibility and participantexternal possibility; a kind of opposition which to the best of my knowledge has not been attested in the typology of modality. The Ossetic possibility constructions support, on grammatical grounds, the division of non-epistemic possibility to participant-internal and participant-external possibilities, the division which, according to typological studies of modality, was fi rst made mainly on semantic grounds.