Could Have, Should Have, Would Have. The Speaker’s Attitude in Expressing Hypothetical Past Alternatives in English and Italian by Means of Pragmatic Markers and Modality in EU Parliamentary Debates.

Paola Gaudio


Legislation and important decisions affecting the lives of over 400 million European citizens are discussed on a regular basis in the European Parliament debates. This research paper analyzes the MEPs’ speeches in terms of the co-occurrence of past conditionals and pragmatic markers signalling the speaker’s attitude to the propositional meaning being expressed by past conditionals. The pragmatic markers of interest have been divided into two categories – one denoting certainty, and the other uncertainty or tentativeness – and compared accordingly. Since it is a corpus-based study, it was also possible to compare the English and Italian versions in order to verify whether the use of pragmatic markers within a set context horizon is consistent in the two languages. Results suggest that the use of hedging pragmatic markers is negligible as compared with intensifying markers, with the exception of ‘perhaps’/‘forse’. Translations, on the other hand, are not always consistent; however, this lack of consistency does not affect the general trends observed in the general use of pragmatic markers from both corpora.



European Parliament debates; modality; pragmatic markers; translation; MEPs’ speeches; English/Italian

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Print ISSN: 1648-2824
Online ISSN: 2029-7203