An annotation scheme for dynamic modality in English and Spanish


  • Juan Rafael Zamorano-Mansilla Universidad Complutense de Madrid
  • Marta Carretero Universidad Complutense, Madrid



discourse analysis, linguistics, dynamic modality, annotation experiments


This paper describes the results of a series of annotation experiments that focused on a number of prototypical expressions of dynamic modality in English and Spanish. This kind of modality may be defined as possibility and necessity due to natural factors (Perkins, 1983) and comprises meanings such as inevitability, tendency, ability and circumstantial possibility. The work reported is part of a larger project – CONTRANOT – aimed at the creation and validation of contrastive functional descriptions through corpus analysis and annotation, and at the production of a bilingual English-Spanish corpus annotated with different layers of discourse and grammatical features (see Arús et al., this volume; Lavid, 2008; Lavid et al., 2007, 2010a, 2010b, 2010c). The results display striking similarities between inter-annotator agreement in the two languages, in terms of both the global percentages of agreement and the percentages of the individual expressions and their respective correlates in the other language. The main problem for inter-annotator agreement was the distinction between dynamic modality and the other two modalities (epistemic and deontic).

Author Biographies

Juan Rafael Zamorano-Mansilla, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Juan Rafael Zamorano-Mansilla is lecturer in English Studies (Language and Linguistics) at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. He received his PhD in English Linguistic Studies from this university in 2006. He has co-authored A systemic-functional grammar of Spanish: a contrastive study with English (Continuum 2010) with Julia Lavid and Jorge Arús. His interests include functional and cognitive grammar and the expression of tense, aspect and modality.

Marta Carretero, Universidad Complutense, Madrid

Marta Carretero is Associate Professor in English Language and Linguistics at the Universidad Complutense, Madrid, where she currently lectures on the areas of pragmatics and functional linguistics. She has done extensive research on modality, including English-Spanish contrastive analysis, the influence of genre on modality and the relationship between modality and evidentiality, among other issues. Within this area she authors articles and reviews in international and Spanish periodical journals. She also has contributions in collective works, such as English modality in perspective: Genre analysis and contrastive studies (2004), Perspectives on evidentiality and modality (2004) and Studies on English modality: In honour of Frank Palmer (2009). She has directed two research projects on modality in English and Spanish. She is co-editor of the collective work A Pleasure of Life in Words: A Festschrift for Angela Downing (2006), and was managing editor of the academic journal Atlantis (2006-2008).


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How to Cite

Zamorano-Mansilla, J. R., & Carretero, M. (2012). An annotation scheme for dynamic modality in English and Spanish. Linguistics and the Human Sciences, 6(1-3), 297–320.



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