"for to" in DARE

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Sun Aug 9 17:17:28 UTC 2009

On Aug 5, 2009, at 7:44 AM, Joan H. Hall wrote:

> To see the DARE entry via Google Books, go to Advanced search and type
> the exact phrase "Used with to to mark the infinitive" and put
> Dictionary of American Regional English in the title slot.

ah, thanks for the incantation.

it's hard to interpret these data (as is so often the case with
syntactic variables).  the cites cover a pretty big geographical
territory, including the Middle Atlantic states and the upper Midwest
(as well as Southern Midlands and parts of the South).  most look to
be from rural speakers.  i can't judge race from this entry alone.

so it's still hard to say who uses "for to" *now*.

back on August 4, Wilson Gray said that black people use this
syntactic structure "all of the time".  here i raised an eyebrow.  it
might well be that black speakers find the variant unremarkable, but i
find it hard to believe that most black speakers use the variant
themselves, or that those who do use it do so very frequently ("all of
the time").  i say this because i don't recall having seen this
variant reported in any of the literature on AAVE/BE, including the
literature by black scholars.  it's certainly not in standard
inventories of characteristic features of the variety.  so it looks
like the variant is out there but not with great frequency.

i repeat, from previous postings: judgments about which people use a
variant, how many of them use it, and how often they use it are often


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