Reportative deontic modality in English and German


  • M. Ryan Bochnak
  • Eva Csipak


We discuss the dual uses of the English adjectival modal be supposed to and the German modal auxiliary sollen under their deontic and evidential readings. While deontic modality is a familiar category, we discuss novel data on the expression of reportative evidentiality in English. We argue for a truly unified analysis for both be supposed to and sollen, which are specified for a reportative informational conversational background. The apparent difference in “flavours” (reportative vs. deontic) is an illusion, caused by differences in the types of reports that feed the ordering source. Although we assign be supposed to and sollen an identical semantics, their distributions are not identical. We hypothesize that this is due to the fact that in German, sollen competes with the quotative modal wollen, which carries a stronger presupposition, triggering Maximize Presupposition effects which are absent in English.


How to Cite

Bochnak, M. R., & Csipak, E. (2019). Reportative deontic modality in English and German. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 21(1), 199–214. Retrieved from