The aim of this chapter is to point out that there is a cross-linguistic regularity in the pattern according to which modals develop out or non-modal verbs, and to elucidate the inner or mental process of these developments. Three types of modals are taken into consideration. Two are related to “possibility”. The other is related to “necessity”. The fact that verbs from several different languages, etymologically unrelated but put in similar uses, show the same pattern or developments leads us to conjecture that there is a common psycholinguistic process in the human mind beyond language and culture. The type of mental process which is concerned with these developments is specified in terms of some abstract semantic representation.
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