Ways of Expressing the Meanings of Optative Modality 

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Ways of Expressing the Meanings of Optative Modality

Optative (бажальна) modality in English and Ukrainian serves to express the wish of the speaker to establish the correspondence of content of the utterance to reality. The main ways and means of expressing this type of modality in English are syntactic. They include characteristic sentence structures, the use of auxiliary and modal verbs (to be, were, should, could, let, would, etc.), the ascending or descending utterance intonation. In Ukrainian apart from the modal verbs and intonation (prosodic means) some specifying modal particles are widely used. The most common of them are б/би, аби, щоб/щоби, коб/и/, бодай, десь, либонь, хай, хоч, хоч би, чи не, коли б, якби and others Cf:

«Я її либонь побачу.» «І might see her there» (M.Вовчок)

«Чи не краще вийти «Would it not be better to назустріч?» (М.Коцюбинський) meet them halfway?»

Optative modality is used in both languages in ample and composite sentences:

If only it could always be От якби завжди була весна.

spring. (Galsworthy) /От коли б завжди була весна/.

«Ah, I wish I were fifteen «Ах/От якби мені знову

again.» (Maugham) було п'ятнадцять років.»

То express wish with implied regret or unreal wish the stative жаль or шкода may be used in Ukrainian:

«I wish I had met him when «Шкода, що я не зустріла
he was younger.»(Greene) його, копи він був молодшим.»

1 See more about grammatical/syntactical modality in: Сучасна українська літературна мова. Синтаксис. За ред І.К. Білодіда. - К.: Наукова думка, 1972, р. 125-137.

«I wish I could gather knowl- «Хотів би/міг би я отак без-
edge as carelessly...» турботно/ліньки набувати
(Maugham) знань...»

Optative modality is very often used to express incentive (спонукальні) meanings which are expressed in English simple and composite sentences with the help of the so-called subjunctive I mood form (synthetic or analytical). In Ukrainian the imperative mood of the verb and the particles хай, бодай, що б are mostly used for the purpose. They express the meaning pertained to the modal verb may in the subjunctive (I) mood as in the following sentences:

«... my gates are open to real «... обійми мої відкриті life, bring what it may». (B.Shaw) перед життям, хай несе воно

що завгодно./ІМо б воно мені не несло.»

«May you both be happy.» «Хай вам обом щастить./
(Hornby) Бажаю вам обом щастя./

Щасти вам обом.

Some optative meanings expressed in Ukrainian through such modal particles as бодай, for example, may not be easy to fully and completely express in English which has no such fine means (Confer the Shevchenkinian «Веселіздалека палати, Бодай ви терном поросли.»).

The Optative meaning of the concluding line was rendered by John Weir with the help of the modal verb may. The mansion, too, from far away - May nettle choke the cursed place!

Optative modality in both languages may have different forms of expression. Its formal means in Ukrainian include the corresponding mood forms of the verb (predicate) and the particle б/би. The particle identifies some subtypes of the subjunctive mood meanings (the suppositional, the conditional, etc.):

«I would he were a tree or «Хотів би я, щоб він був
flower.» (H.S.Leigh) деревом чи квіткою.» (От якби

він був деревом чи квіткою).

«If only you could make him «Тільки б ви змогли

laugh.» (М. Twain) викликати в дядька посмішку/

Якби тільки ви змогли викликати в дядька посмішку.»

The last sentence, naturally, can be translated without any

structural transformation: «Якби ви тільки змусили його хоч посміхнутись.»

The meaning of optative modality expressing desire is very close to incentive modality expressing non-categorical demand, requestor threat. Optative meanings are usually realized in English via the modal verbs should, would, may/might, could, and the semantically corresponding infinitive, whereas in Ukrainian the particles щоб, бодай, хай and the prosodic means (sentence intonation/stress) are mostly employed here:

«Щоб нікому 'ні 'словечка.» «But no one should ever
(А. Головко) know/learn anything about it.»

«Щоб на 'світанку був «But you should (are to) be
'тут!» (Г. Тютюнник) here at daybreak!»

2. Incentive (спонукальна) modality is more often expressed in English through the modal verb let. These meanings are usually rendered into Ukrainian with the help of the imperative mood forms of the verbal predicate and the particle хай/нехай:

God said, "Let Newton be!» Бог сказав: «Хай буде
and all was light. (A.Pope) Ньютон!» і навкруги


Let him that earns the bread Нехай той, хто заробляє
eat it. (Bibl. Saying) свій хліб, і споживає його (пор.

Хто не працює, той не їсть).

Let each tailor mend his own Хай кожен займається
coat. (Saying) своїми справами.

The meaning of the second sentence, for example, may have a fuller expression when it is rendered into Ukrainian antonymically: Хто не заробляє хліба, той не повинен і їсти його./Хто не робить, той не їсть.

Ukrainian incentive sentences introduced by the particle хай/ нехай are usually translated into English with the help of the modal verb let as well:

Нехай стара мати Let the old mother learn How
Навчається, як дітей Нових such kind of children... must be
доглядати. (Т. Шевченко) cared for by her. (Transl. ByJ.Weir)

Нехай мати усміхнеться. Let once more our mother

Заплакана мати. smile. Our tear-ridden mother.

(Т. Шевченко) (Ibid.)

Incentive modality may also be expressed in Ukrainian with the help of other modal particles. One of the often used for this purpose is ж/же, the meaning of which is usually expressed in English through the modal verb let and the corresponding intonation:

Походимо ж, моя зоре. Oh let us wander still, my fate...

(Т.Г.Шевченко) (Transl.byJ. Weir).

English incentive meanings can also be expressed through the combination of the particle long with the modal verb may, which together with the corresponding intonation of the sentence express the meaning close to the Ukrainian exclamatory sentences with the particlexafi or the particles хай же: Long live and prosper our Motherland! May our Motherland live long! Хай/хай же живе і квітне наша Батьківщина!

3. The means of expression as well as those of rendering sub
junctive modality are mostly common with those employed to ex
press optative modality. They are in English the modal verbs could,
should, would, might
or the expressions would rather, would
For example: / would rather come tomorrow than today.
He would sooner resign than take part in such dishonest business
deals. (Kerr) These modal verbs are also used to express the corre
sponding subjunctive meanings in Ukrainian simple and composite

«Пішов би в огонь і воду.» «Не would go through thick

(Гончар) and thin/through many trials.»

«Вам би милосердною «You would perfectly suit for

сестрою бути. (Ibid) a hospital nurse.»

4. The expression of subjunctive modality in the composite
sentence of the two languages does not differ from that in their simple
sentences. Allomorphism, i.e., divergence is observed only in the
already mentioned formal expression of incentive meanings with the
help of the so-called subjunctive I mood; the latter does not correlate
with its Ukrainian grammatical and partly semantic expression. For
example: It is necessary that you (should) come a couple of days
before the others. (Kerr) Необхідно/треба, щоб ти приїхав за кілька
днів раніше від інших.

The subjunctive I form should come or simply come (It is necessary that you come) used for any person in singular or plural has in Ukrainian the only equivalent verb form in the indicative mood (приїхав).

Other English synthetic and analytical subjunctive mood forms in simple and composite sentences have in Ukrainian their morphological and semantic equivalents. Constantly distinguishing among them is that same particle б/би or the conjunction якби, which help to render the meanings of the suppositional and the conditional mood forms into Ukrainian. The use of the modal particle or the conjunction is predetermined by the meaning of the Ukrainian verb and not by the mood or tense form of its English lexical equivalent, which may express actions referring both to present and to future as in the following sentences:

It would be madness to start Було б просто божевіллям in management unless one had братись за організацію трупи, at least three plays. (Maugham) доки нема/не маєш хоча б

трьох п'єс.

«Should Carry come, ask her «На випадок, якби прийшла
to wait." (Dreiser) Керрі, попросіть її'зачекати.»

Similarly rendered are also meanings expressed by the subjunctive II and conditional mood forms of the verb, which may refer to present, past or future. These forms of the verbal predicate have their corresponding paradigmatic equivalents in Ukrainian. Cf.:

«But if they had been sent by Але якби вони були послані
ту people to take me away, then нашими, щоб забрати мене, то
І should not hide." (O'Dell) не треба було б мені ховатись.»

«If he had any sense, he^d «Коли б він був розумнішим.
shut his eyes.
» (Maugham) він би заплющив на це очі.»

The clauses which express the subjunctive meanings in English and Ukrainian may have no introductory/connecting conjunction if (якби, копи б):

«Were I less attached to you, «Був би я менш прихильним

І might pretend to gloss it over.» до вас, я б може й прикрасив
(Cronin) це./Будь я не так прихильний»

«... had any stranger been «...никав би був хтось prowling round the house, he сторонній попід будинком, would have been seen by the його був би помітив слуга чи servant or the keepers.» (Wilde) то сторожі.»

The past subjunctive II (had been prowling'] and the past conditional mood paradigm (wouldhave been seen) have in these sentences their corresponding verb forms in Ukrainian. These subjunc-

lOf us.

tive mood forms under the pressure of centuries long domination Russian in Ukraine are mostly substituted for simple past verb forms. Being lexically equivalent and structurally much like their English paradigms, these Ukrainian subjunctive mood forms present an excellent morphological means of expression and must not be neglected when rendering such type of meanings into Ukrainian.

Exercise I. Identify the type of modal meaning (incentive, suppositional, conditional, etc.) expressed by the modal verbs and mood forms in the English sentences below. Suggest the appropriate means and ways for faithful translating these sentences into Ukrainian.

1.1 should have seen them farther first. 2. «I would have it as a gift.» (Galsworthy) 3. «Jacob would have insisted on going to the police.» 4. «Most people, Mr.Poirot, would let this business go.» (Christie) 5. «If only one were like birds!» (Galsworthy) 6. «I should be sorry to interrupt you.» 7. «I suggested we should meet here...» (Snow)

8. «I couldn't squeeze a tear out of my eyes, if life depended on it...»

9. «A real change of air surroundings would be very helpful if you
could arrange it.» (M.Wilson) 10. «The thing was «rich», as his father
would have said - if he knew, I would see her furtherfirst.» (Galsworthy)


11. «I wish you had not put yourself to so much trouble.» (Cronin)

12. «You had better move over to the other side.» (Hemingway)

13. «I wouldn't stay with you, though if you didn't worry me.»

14. What a delight it would be if it would endure. 15. «I wouldn't have
wanted you to come if I hadn't loved you.» (Dreiser) 16. «He had been
anxious that morning in case she might take it into her head to come.»
(Murdoch) 17. «I'd have been hurt, if you hadn't called». (M.Wilson)
18. «It wouldn't have been so bad if she hadn't been all alone in the
house.» (Stout) 19. «It wouldn't have happened if Douglas hadn't come
here.» (Spark) 20. Had he not known, it could be so easy. (Stone)
21. Even if they had wanted me to stay, I should have refused.
(Maugham) 22. Happy they could have been, if they could have dis
missed me at a month's warning too. (Christie) 23. She wished she
had an opportunity of a few words with him, so that she would have
told him not to worry. 24. «If you had been in love with him, you wouldn't
have wanted three days to think it over. You'd have said yes there and
then.» (Maugham) 25. And their feet would have yet trod many trails
and not dusting brushed the clouds aside and cleared the air. (Lon
don) 26. «If I had been you, mother, I might have done as you did...»

Exercise II. Identify the modal meanings (optative, incentive, suppositional, etc.) expressed through optative or subjunctive modality in the English sentences below and translate them into Ukrainian.

1. «I wish it hadn't happened. Oh, I wish it hadn't happened.» 2. «If you rested, I would go,» I urged him. (Hemingway)S. «I think I'd better ring off.» 4. «And with time on my side I would look back on the day without bitterness...» 5. «On your way, bums,» the policeman said, prodding us with his billy. (Caldwell) 6. «You go up to bed,» I said, «You are sick». 7. «Don't think,» I said, «Just take it easy.» 8. «Let's not have any ordering, nor any silliness, Francis,» Margot said.9. «Behave yourself.» «Oh, shut up,» Macober almost shouted. 10. «Let's go to the car,» said Macober. «Let's all have a drink. Come along.» 11. «You ought to take some broth to keep your strength up.» 12. «It would have been natural for him to go to sleep.» 13. «I'd rather stay awake.» (Hemingway) 14. «Well, he says himself, he wouldn't have white servants.» 15. «I guess maybe I'd better (shake hands)», she said. «I wouldn't for the world have him think I had any feeling» (here упередженість). 16. «I think I'd better shake hands, just the way I would with anybody else.» (D. Parker) 17. The girls wouldn't have thought so much of him if they'd seen him then. 18. If he couldn't get something to do he'd have to commit suicide. 19. «The swim shouldn't take you much over an hour and a quarter.» (Maugham) 20. «We'd better be getting back,» one of the girls said. 21. «Richard should stay here and I should go up North,» Frank said. (M. Spark) 22. «I wish you hadn't stopped your German,» said Mor. (Murdoch) 23. «If you should happen to change your mind, I'm always ready to take off your hands.» (Bennett) 24. «I expect you've not finished your business. I should be sorry to interrupt.» (Snow) 25. «If Joe were only with him!» (Galsworthy) 26. Happy they could have been, if they could have dismissed me at a month's warning too. 27. «But for your help, the old woman would not have risked crossing the street.» (Kerr) They were ready to attack the intruders, should they prove unfriendly. 28. «If they were hunters, I must hide before they saw me.» (S.O'Dell) 29. If worst came to worst. (Saying) 30. He suggested that they should have a stroll through the Luxembourg (museum).30. Then, perhaps, I'd be able to judge if I could help.31. Even if they had wanted me to stay, I should have refused. (Maugham) 32. If we could get hold of her, we might learn a lot more. (Christie) 33. «I wish you had not put yourself to so much trouble,» Stephen said. (Cronin) 34. «I think I'd sooner have the other one,»

said Mr. Povey. (Bennett) 35. «I wouldn't have it as a gift.»(Galsworthy) 36. She wished she had an opportunity of a few words with him so that she would have told him not to worry. (Maugham) 37. «Mike, would you guess I was half Welsh?». 38. «Would you want a job?» «Sure?» «Oh yes, quite sure.» (Trevor)

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