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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Folia Linguistica
Volume (Issue) 43(1)
Title of proceedings Folia Linguistica
DOI 10.1515/flin-2022-2017

Open Access

Type of Open Access Green OA Embargo (Freely available via Repository after an embargo)


Abstract Though the emergence of modality from verbs of motion is a well-attested phenomenon, the assessment of cross-linguistically valid pathways still remains a desideratum. In this paper I offer an outline of the pathway followed by the understudied Italian modal verb occorrere ‘to happen; to be necessary/needed’ (from Latin occurrere , originally ‘to run towards, into something or someone’). Based on the analysis of two large corpora, this paper reconstructs the emergence of the impersonal constructions ‘ occorre + INF’ and ‘ occorre che + SBJV’ vis-à-vis the personal one (‘to be needed’). The data and their analysis confirm the complexity of the pathway: in fact, the emergence of modality is strongly interlaced with the co-presence of the ancient meaning ‘to happen’, but also with the emergence of a deontic construction in which occorrere assumes the function of the auxiliary essere (‘to be’) as well as with the later evolution of another construction with negative polarity and in which occorrere is a telic metaphoric verb of motion. Though the pathway followed by Italian occorrere could be idiosyncratic in a cross-linguistic perspective, its in-depth study sheds new light on the question of how modality emerges and in particular on its source domains and their relations.