"should/would" redux

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon May 13 18:54:59 UTC 2013

In 1685 a dancing-master was expelled from Boston for offenses
including blasphemy and contempt of the authorities.  Samuel Sewall
wrote "'tis reported he [the dancing master] should say that by one
Play he could teach more Divinity than Mr. [Samuel] Willard or the
Old Testament."   Cotton Mather wrote "If a Blasphemer shall tell
them, There's as good Divinity to be learned by a Play as by the
Scripture itself ...".

Sewall's "should" is what we would express today as "would" or "did",
with the additional connotation of more than once.  Mather's "shall"
means "does", again probably connoting more than once for this blasphemer.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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