[Ads-l] "best" as invariable modal verb

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 10 12:40:02 EDT 2017


For Language Log, I wrote about Trump's threat, "North Korea best not...":

http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=34000

Towards the end there's a 66-year antedating of OED3 "best" v.2 (1900 ->
1834).

1834 Charles Augustus Davis _Letters of J. Downing, Major_ 256 'Well,' says
Mr. Van Buren, it's a pretty severe letter, but we best not translate it --
I'll read it as it is, with pleasure.'
https://books.google.com/books?id=Vk0LAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA256

--bgz

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