Kilu von Prince (HU Berlin)

Mapping irreality: Hypotheses and observations about modality in Oceanic and beyond

In this talk, I will introduce the controversial debate about the realis/irrealis distinction as a typological primitive. I will discuss how the tripartite distinction of modal markers found in some languages points to a more fine-grained ontology of modal-temporal domains, which can be labeled as "the actual", "the counterfactual" and "the possible". These three domains can be defined succinctly within a branching-time framework. This approach not only helps to dissolve many of the inconsistencies in the literature on irrealis mood. It also sheds new light on old questions such as "What is counterfactuality?" and "What is modality?".