The Manifestation of Mood and Modality in Texts

Roseline Abonego Adejare


There is a dearth of studies on mood and modality as a focus. This study examines the manifestation of mood and modality in texts. It identifies their pattern of occurrence, compares their frequency, and accounts for possible differences between their manifestation and reported norms. The data comprise 3 069 verbal groups. It was obtained by orthographically transcribing Christian Religious Knowledge, Geography, Physics, and Chemistry lessons recorded in schools in Lagos State, Nigeria and identifying all the verbal groups therein. The topics taught were respectively The Mission of the Church, The Drainage System, Electric Field, and Nitrogen. The scale-and-category version of the systemic grammatical model, complemented by simple percentages, served as analytical tool. Results show that mood represents 72 per cent of the data and 81 per cent of the finite verbal groups. Declarative mood, interrogative mood and imperative mood represent 55 and 62, 10 and 11, and 7.4 and 8.3 per cent respectively of the data and finite. Verbal groups marked for imperative mood occurred most frequently in segments of the Physics lesson involving strict computation. The non-polar interrogative mood dominated (73 per cent) its polar counterpart. Modality accounted for 13 per cent of the data and 14 per cent of finite. Root modality and Epistemic modality manifested at a ratio of 3:2 in favour of Root meaning. Only in Physics was Epistemic modality (63 per cent )higher than Root meaning. Will and can exceeded the reported 4.2 and 3.5 in 1 000 word-occurrence by 67 and 46 per cent respectively. PREDICTION was the most recurring specific modal meaning. The fact that every verbal group in predicator function selects from the system of mood partly explains mood’s dominance over modality in the texts analysed.

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English Linguistics Research
ISSN 1927-6028 (Print)   ISSN 1927-6036 (Online)

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