Latvian dabūt 'get': An acquisitive modal?


Depending on the context the Latvian verb dabūt ‘get’ expresses either necessity or possibility in combination with the infinitive, which makes it similar to what is known as “acquisitive modals” in other languages, such as Swedish and Estonian. The Latvian verb is different in that it is implicative rather than modal, i.e. the necessity or possibility that it expresses is always actualized, unless the verb is negated. The use of dabūt with the infinitive has developed from the meaning ‘onset of possession’ alongside other meanings that include ‘displacement/change of state’ and ‘unpleasant experience/damage’, the former also being found with acquisitive verbs in other languages.


modality; participant-external modality; acquisive modals; implicative verbs; Latvian


Published : 2015-12-31

Daugavet, A. (2015). Latvian dabūt ’get’: An acquisitive modal?. Baltic Linguistics, 6, 9-44.

Anna Daugavet
St Petersburg State University, Philological Faculty, Chair of General Linguistics, Universitetskaja nab. 11, RU-199034 St Petersburg  Russian Federation