Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Language, Education and Innovation 2016

A Comparative Study of English and Czech Verb Forms Based on a Parallel Corpus

Renata Šimůnková

Technical University of Liberec, Czech Republic


The area of modality represents an extensive and complex issue and since the fundamental means of its expression differ from language to language, it often causes problems in translations between languages. On the other hand modals verbs are frequently used means of everyday language and a deeper insight into the differences between the systems is always very valuable. Parallel corpora represent efficient means for such studies as they allow a large number of tokens to be processed, which would be extremely demanding if performed by means of manual excerption, and they thus grant more objective results. The subject-matter of the paper is a study of the means used to express negative necessity (lack of permission, logical necessity not to) in English and their counterparts in Czech. In particular, by means of co-text analysis, different semantic values of these means of expression are delimited. The study further focuses on how the choice of particular means is influenced by the style of a text, the two styles investigated being fiction and journalese. The generally assumed distinction between MUST NOT and CAN NOT residing in the fact that MUST NOT mainly expresses strong prohibition was not confirmed. Strong prohibition as such seems rarely to be expressed at all, the main interpretation of MUST NOT being subjective moral impropriety. As far as the difference between the two styles is concerned, the journalistic style seems to prefer ‘more objective means’, both in the meaning a certain modal expression is used with as well as the choice of the means themselves.


parallel corpus, comparative study, negative necessity, fiction, journalese

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