multiple modals

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIO.EDU
Tue Jan 2 23:02:39 UTC 2007

A very nice paper at NWAV this fall, by Corinne Brandstetter of Georgetown,
dealt with the syntactic variation in double modals.  She traced a
hierarchy of epistemic ModP with 'may' or 'might' as head higher than
permission/ability ModP with 'could' as head, and with
optional  retrospective AspP with adv. 'just' in between.  Someone on the
list had said double modals couldn't be negated?  She got from her Delta
informants (TN, MS, AR) "It may shouldn't ...," "You might not should ...,"
"I might just couldn't ...," and positive "I might even could ...."  Either
modal can be negated, though scope and meanings would differ: "It might not
would bother you" vs. "It might wouldn't bother you."  Finally, ellipsis is
constrained: "She might would like those, and he might too" vs. *"She might
would like those, and he would too."  Interrogatives were more problematic;
one informant found ?"Might they could...?" less awkward than ?"Could they
might...?"  Another preferred embedding: "I wonder if they might
could...."  And so on.

Very interesting stuff, citing M & M but also Feagin (1979), Boertien
(1986), Di Paolo (1989), and Battistella (1995).  Marianne Di Paolo was
sitting next to me, and she was very impressed by Brandstetter's advance
upon the other analyses, including her own.


At 12:29 PM 1/2/2007, you wrote:
>DARE treats multiple modals at "may" sense B, "must" sense 2, and "used
>to" (forthcoming). There's a reference at "may" to an article by Michael
>Montgomery and Margaret Mishoe in 1994 American Speech (69.3--20), where
>there are further data including negative and interrogative forms.
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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