A Stylistic Analysis of the Use of Modality To identify the Point of View in a Short Story:

Jose Cristina Parina, Kristine Dasha de Leon


The present paper used the modal framework of Simpson in doing a stylistic analysis of the story “Things You Don’t Know” by Ian Rosales, a highly-acclaimed Filipino writer. Since stylistics has always been concerned with how readers interpret the texts by focusing on linguistic choices, the modal choices of the writer based on Simpson’s modal framework would allow the readers to identify the attitude of the narrator. Indeed, results show that the epistemic type of modal was preponderant –this type apparently allows the readers to feel the narrator’s uncertainty in situations or events. In addition, this modal framework also enables the readers to further identify the shade of a text, since the choice of modals highlights either a positive, negative, or neutral shade of a story. Since the epistemic modal was the most pronounced, the story is definitely negative in shade, and this can be inferred in the short story where the narrator is uncertain what was going on in her everyday affairs. In turn, this uncertainty is emphasised by the narrator’s dependence on his/her perception of external appearances or surroundings.


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17576/3L-2014-2002-08


Keywords: boulomaic; epistemic; deontic; dynamic; modality; shade



Full Text:



Babaee, R. & Montashery, I. (2012). Stanley Fish with respect to the reader. International Journal of English and Literature. Vol. 3(2), 18-24. DOI: 10.5897/IJEL11.114

Hazidi Abdul Hamid. (2002). Similar words, different meanings: A natural semantic metalanguage exploration of cultural differences. GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies. Vol. 2(1).

Coates, J. (2003). The role of epistemic modality in women’s talk. In: Roberta Facchinetti, Manfred G. Krug & Frank Robert Palmer (Eds.). Modality in Contemporary English (pp. 331-348). Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter.

Fish, S. (1970). Literature in the reader: Stylistic analysis. New Literary History. Vol 2(Autumn), 123-162.

Graffi, G. (2001). 200 years of syntax: A critical survey. Philadelphia: J. Benjamins.

Hacquard, V. & Wellwood, A. (2012). Embedding epistemic modals in English: A corpus-based study. Semantics and Pragmatics. Vol. 5(4), 1-29. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/sp.5.4

Halliday, M.A.K. (1994). An introduction to functional grammar (2nd Ed.). London: Edward Arnold.

Haratyan, F. (2011). Halliday’s SFL and social meaning. 2nd International Conference on Humanities, Historical and Social Sciences IPEDR vol.17, 260-264. Retrieved December 19, 2013 from http://www.ipedr.com/vol17/49-CHHSS%202011-H10074.pdf

Iwamoto, N. (2007). Modality and point of view in media discourse. Retrieved December 17, 2013 from http://human.kanagwau.ac.jp/../16308.pdf

Lee, K.G. (2010). Power and the translator: Joseph Conrad in Chinese translations during the Republican era (1912-1937). Unpublished PhD thesis, University College London.

Malmgren, C.D. (1985). Fictional space in the Modernist and Post-modernist American novel. USA: Bucknell University Press.

McIntyre, D. (2006). Point of view in plays. USA: John Benjamin.

Mishra, P. (2011). A deconstructive stylistic reading of Keat’s Ode on a Grecian Urn. 3L: The Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies. Vol 17(2), 49-58.

Morini, M. (2011). Point of view in first-person narratives: A deictic analysis of David Copperfield. Style. Vol. 45(4), 598-695.

Nissen, A. (2000). Making the Jump: Eudera Welty and the ethics of narrative. Journal of the Short Story in English. Vol. 35(Autumn), 1-8.

Nauze, F. (2009). Modality and context dependence. In Lotte Hogeweg, Helen de Hoop, & Andrew Malchukov (Eds.). Cross-linguistics, Semantic of Tense, Aspect, and Modality (pp. 317-339). USA: John Benjamins.

Palmer, F. R. (2003). Modality in English: Theoretical, descriptive and typological issues. In: R. Facchinetti, M. Krug, F. Palmer (Eds.). Modality in contemporary English (pp. 1-17). Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter.

Semino, E. & Culpeper, J. (Eds.). (2002). Cognitive stylistics: Language and cognition in text analysis. USA: John Benjamins.

Simpson, P. (1993). Language, ideology, and point of view. London: Routledge.

Simpson, P. (2004). Stylistics: A resource book for students. London: Routledge.

Trimarco, P. (2013). A corpus-based study of negative shading in the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe. In Jesus Romero-Trillo (Ed.). Yearbook of Corpus Linguistics and Pragmatics 2013. Spain: Springer.


  • There are currently no refbacks.




eISSN : 2550-2247

ISSN : 0128-5157