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Means of Expressing Grammatical Modality




Grammatical or syntactic modality is of common nature in English and Ukrainian as well. It expresses actions viewed upon as real, unreal, optative, hypothetic, conditional, incentive, interrogative, etc. The principal means of expressing such actions are mood forms of the verb (indicative, imperative and subjunctive). These mood forms are realized respectively in declarative, interrogative and negative sentences of wishful, hypothetical or conditional modality. The English grammatical modality can be expressed in three mood forms: Suppositional (Subjunctive I) mood, Subjunctive II mood, Conditional mood.

In many cases these types of the English Subjunctive mood can be conveyed by the corresponding Subjunctive mood forms in Ukrainian, e.g.: I wonder sometimes, when I think of it, what they would have done, if I had been taken with an illness(Ch. Dickens). − Я інколи думаю про те, як би вони вчинили, якщо б я захворів.

However, this is not the only way of rendering the Subjunctive mood in the target language: it is often translated by the Indicative mood sometimes the infinitive is used instead, e.g.: The doctor received them as if he had known them for years. − Доктор прийняв їх так, як ніби він знав їх багато років.

I proposed to Ada that morning, that we should go and see Richard (Ch. Dickens). − Вранці я запропонувала Аді піти відвідати Ричарда.

Ways of Translating the Suppositional Mood (Subjunctive I)

Subjunctive I formed with the help of the auxiliary verb should (for all the persons singular/plural) and infinitive (without particle to) is used in the following cases:

a) in subject clauses after a principal clause the type: it is (was) necessary; it is (was) important; it is (was) right; it is (was) requested; it is (was) recommended; it is (was) obligatory; it is (was) better (best); it is (was) desirable; it is (was) of vital importance; it is (was) suggested; it is (was) demanded; it is (was) ordered, e.g.: It is important that the real situation should be examined because anything that promotes irrational differences between earnings in the industry is bound to cause trouble – Важливо (=слід) вивчити реальний стан справ у промисловості, оскільки все, що сприяє неологічній розбіжності у заробітках, пов’язане з виникненням проблем.

It was necessary that the child’s history should be known to none (A. Trollope).Треба було, щоб про історію цієї дитини ніхто не дізнався.

It was desirable that she … should marry this earnest, well-to-do and respectable man (Th. Hardy). – Було бажано, щоб вона … вийшла заміж за цю серйозну, спроможну і солідну людину;

b) in object clauses after the principal clauses with verbs and word-groups denoting order, suggestion, advice, desire, etc.: he orders (ordered); he suggests (suggested); he proposes (proposed); he demands (demanded); he desires (desired); he insists (insisted); he is anxious (was anxious); he will see (he saw) to it…, e.g.: We propose that all children should be transferred, at the age of eleven or twelve, from the junior or primary school. Ми пропонуємо, щоб дітей переводили з початкової школи у віці 11-12 років;

Western and Arab diplomats and other specialists on Gulf affairs have suggested that the American Administration should clearly outline its policy towards the Gulf countries. Дипломати західних і арабських країн та спеціалісти з питань Перської затоки запропонували американській адміністрації чітко визначити свою позицію стосовно країн цього регіону;

c)in object clauses introduced by the conjunctionlest(якби не)if in the principal clause the predicate is expressed by a verb denoting ‘fear’, e.g.: She fears lest she should be blamed. Вона боїться, якби її не засудили.

The anxiety was felt lest someone else should arrive(J. Galsworthy). Ми турбувалися, якби не прийшовще хто-небудь;

d)in conditional subordinate clauses and can be translated by means of the words у випадку, якщо, якби. Such sentences may have an inverted word-order without the conjunction if in the original, e.g.: Should our plant succeed(= if our plant should succeed) in saling its production we may increase our income. Якби наше підприємство змогло успішно збути свою продукцію, то ми могли б збільшити свій прибуток.

I’ll be at the Haywain if you should change your mind (Eden).– Я буду в готелі Хейван, якщо ти раптом передумаєш.

Ways of Translating the Subjunctive Mood (Subjunctive II)

Subjunctive II is used in conditional subordinate sentences to express an unreal condition referring to the present or future. The verb to be has the form were (for all the persons singular/plural) in such sentences introduced by the conjunctions if, unless, in case; with other verbs the same meaning is expressed by the Past Indefinite Tense of the Indicative mood, e.g.: The world would be healthier if every chemist’s shop in England were demolished(B. Shaw). – Людство було б здоровіше, якби всі аптеки в Англії були знищені.

If he had any sense, he’d shut his eyes” (S. Maugham). – «Коли б він був розумнішим, він би заплющив на це очі».

An unreal condition referring to the future can also be expressed by the Past Subjunctive of the verb to be + to-Infinitive of the notional verb. Such sentences are often translated by means of the phrase Якби трапилось так, e.g.: If inflation were to continue on the scale experiences in the past ten years, the last threads sustaining sterling as a world currency would be severed. Якби трапилось так, що темпи зростання інфляції залишилися такими ж, як протягом останніх десяти років, то впали б останні опори, що підтримували фунт стерлінгів як світову валюту.

In the subordinate clause of unreal condition referring to the past time the Past Perfect of the Indicative mood is used, e.g.: If only she had explained seriously to James last night the true position he would have believed her (Eden). Якби тільки вона серйозно пояснила Джеймсу вчора увечері, як все йде насправді, він би повірив їй.

Subjunctive II is also used in attributive clauses modifying the noun time in the principal clause It is time. The construction it’s time + subject + past tenseexpresses the meaning in the present or future to complain about and criticize people and things and also to talk about doing something one has been putting off. The words high or about can be added to the principal clause It is time and used before the noun time (it is high/about time) to make the complaint or criticism stronger, e.g.: It’s time I thought it out from the beginning. – Мені пора обдумати все із самого початку.

Now, children, it’s high time you were washed and dressed. – Ну, діти, вам давно пора вмитися і одягнутися.

The Subjunctive II forms used in object clauses with the predicate verb in the Indicative mood in order to express wish with implied regret or unreal wish can be rendered in two ways:

a) by the subjunctive forms Я б хотів, Мені б хотілося, e.g.: I wish I deserved your compliment. – Я дуже б хотів бути гідним вашого компліменту;

b) with the help of the stative жаль or шкода. Constructions with the ‘wish’-clauses often require antonymous translation, e.g.: I wish I deserved your compliment. – Який жаль(= шкода), що я не гідний вашого компліменту.

I wish I had met him when he was younger” (G. Greene). «Шкода, що я не зустріла його, коли він був молодшим».

The Subjunctive II forms expressing unreality are found in adverbial clauses of comparison introduced by the conjunction as if/as though(=Ukr.: як/ніби/неначе).

It is not infrequent that English and Ukrainian sentences differ in degree of certainty or uncertainty expressed by the mood construction. An English sentence shows more vividly the speaker’s attitude to the situation, whether she/he considers the situation real or unreal. Cf. It looks as if he were sick. (I am not sure). – It looks as if he is sick. (He really is but I wouldn’t like to sound categorical). In Ukrainian this subtle difference in meaning is lost: Здається, він хворий.

The Past Subjunctive is used to show that the action of the subordinate clause is simultaneous with that of the main clause, e.g.: I am not angry with them. I was rather afraid of them, as if I were castaway among creatures with whom I had no community of nature. – Я не сердився на них. Швидше, я їх боявся так, ніби мене лишили наодинці з істотами, з якими у мене не було нічого спільного.

She treated academic persons with reverence, as though they weresacred cows; but though they might be sacred cows, they did not seem to her quite serious. – Вона ставилась до науковців з благоговінням, як до святих, але навіть якби вони могли бути такими, вони не здавалися їй достатньо серйозними.

The Past Perfect Subjunctive is used to show that the action of the subordinate clause is prior to that of the main clause, e.g.: She shook hands with him as though they had known each other all their lives. – Вони потиснули один одному руки, неначе були знайомі все життя.


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