Swedish hinna viewed through its English correspondences – have time or be able to?

Mats Johansson, Lene Nordrum


This article considers the Swedish verb hinna and its English correspondences in the English-Swedish Parallel Corpus – both in the direction Swedish original to English translation and in the direction English original to Swedish translation. Swedish hinna lacks a straightforward equivalent in English; thus its English correspondences in parallel corpora can shed light on its meaning and use, as described in the method ‘seeing language through multilingual corpora’ (Johansson 2007). The results for hinna suggest that hinna is monosemous, but that its core meaning is enriched by implied ones (presupposition and conversational implicature). Based on the observed translations and sources of hinna, we propose that in the majority of our data hinna denotes time sufficiency and also presupposes ability and conversationally implicates actualization. We relate our discussion of hinna to van der Auwera and Plungian’s (1998) semantic map of modality, in which ability and sufficiency are seen as contiguous modal meanings.

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