The Swedish modal auxiliary ska/skall seen through its English translations


  • Karin Aijmer



ska, skall, obligation, multifunctionality, parallel corpus, English, Swedish


The Swedish modal auxiliary ska/ll is interesting typologically because it is highly multifunctional with different functions in the systems of tense and modality. The aim of the paper is to investigate the translations of ska/ll into English as a methodology to throw light on its multifunctionality and the linguistic and extralinguistic factors determining its usage as a marker of obligation. The translations with must and the imperative point to the performative uses of ska/ll such as commands and orders. However, the translations also show that ska/ll is involved in offers, recommendations, suggestions, advice where the strength of imposition has been weakened. Other translations reveal more unexpected uses of ska/ll, for example to express negative evaluation if the context of the utterance could be interpreted as emotional or argumentative. The translations also draw attention to linguistic and non-linguistic factors aiding to distinguish functions of ska/ll (or choosing a particular translational correspondence).




How to Cite

Aijmer, Karin. 2018. “The Swedish Modal Auxiliary ska/Skall Seen through Its English Translations”. Bergen Language and Linguistics Studies 9 (1).