The Spelling of Cannot

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Jan 30 00:59:28 UTC 2001

At 11:50 PM -0800 1/29/01, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>?Is it because cannot is the only one where the vowel in the modal verb
>becomes (can become) a schwa? This would make it more natural to spell it as
>one word.
>Benjamin Barrett
>gogaku at

Sounds plausible--we should probably also worry about the variants in
Scotland (esp. in Shetland) of the form "shouldna", "wouldna",
"dinna", "canna", etc., all with schwas and spelled as one word.


(Checking the OED for "cannot", we find 'the ordinary modern writing
of can not', which is clearly not quite sufficient.)
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