"might have done"

Lynne Murphy lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK
Tue Nov 21 17:31:39 UTC 2000

>On Tue, 21 Nov 2000 RonButters at AOL.COM wrote:
>>  I published an article or two on this British neologism a number of years
>>  ago. It seems to have come into popularity in "cultivated" circles in
>>  southern England between the two world wars. Before that, it was decidely
>>  declasse--rural and working-class in the 19th century. An interesting bit of

Mai Kuha says:

>Interesting. This really adds to my appreciation of the episode of the
>britcom "Are You Being Served" in which Mr. Lucas tells the story of how
>he got caught in a young woman's apartment and tried to pass for a TV
>repairman (i.e. a legitimate visitor) by picking up the TV and starting to
>leave the apartment with it. "Did you get away with it?" Mr. Humphries
>asks, intrigued. "I might have done, if I'd had me pants on," Lucas
>explains. Maybe "might have done" here is intended as humorous

I doubt the writers intended it to be perceived as hypercorrection.
These days, everyone says "might have done" (or "could have done" or
whatever).  (It could equally have been his working-class roots
showing through.)

M. Lynne Murphy
Lecturer in Linguistics
School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 3AN    UK
phone:  +44(0)1273-678844
fax:    +44(0)1273-671320

More information about the Ads-l mailing list