Meaning of "used to would" double modal?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Nov 12 20:13:23 UTC 2009

At 11/12/2009 02:30 PM, Charles Doyle wrote:
>Speaking from my own "Southern" intuitions:
>The modal "would" here simply adds--or emphasizes--a sense of habituality.

Speaking from my own "Northern" attempts to understand English spoken
by others, I have the same sense.  The "would" tells me that the
speaker, talking about the past ("used to"), in that past more than
once did the thing in question ("would" lie, hate).


>---- Original message ----
> >Date: Thu, 12 Nov 2009 12:24:21 -0500
> >From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> (on behalf
> of Jesse Sheidlower <jester at PANIX.COM>)
> >
> >A friend encountered some examples of the "used to would" double
> modal in a song by a southern performer. I explained the general
> idea, but he pointed out that in the examples in the song--things
> like "lies I used to would tell" or "people I used to would
> hate"--the "would" seemed redundant, and he asked if the double
> modal was emphatic, or random, or what.
> >
> >I don't actually know, and figured I'd ask here rather than trying
> to make something up based on the few resources for this that I have handy.
> >
> >Thanks for any input.
> >
> >Jesse Sheidlower
> >OED
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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