Double modal

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 28 20:01:19 UTC 2006

Down home in East Texas, we use a longer variant: "We in a mess, over
yonder in EYE-rack, hit seem like to me."

Beverly, I'm impressed by your use of "mess," which people actually
say, instead of some tired literary cliché like "peck of trouble,"
which I know only from  books and movies. As the old blues standard,
"Blue Monday," has it:

Sunday morning, my head is bad.
But it's worth it, for the time that I had.
Now, I've got to get my rest,
'Cause Monday is a _mess_! [emphasis in the original]


On 12/28/06, Beverly Flanigan <flanigan at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Beverly Flanigan <flanigan at OHIO.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Double modal
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I'm not sure it's that noticeable, or off-putting, to Northerners.  A
> similar "double" is the Southern double complementizer "like that," as in
> "It seems like that we're in a mess in Iraq."  I made that up, but Southern
> Congressmen are heard using the form often--as would any normal Southerner,
> of course.
> At 01:19 PM 12/28/2006, you wrote:
> >Is that the same species as one of Jeff Foxworthy's "You might be a
> >redneck..." shibboleths,
> >
> >         _I used t' could'a'_
> >
> >?
> >
> >-jk
> >
> >At 09:35 AM 12/28/2006, Scot LaFaive wrote:
> >>---------------------- Information from the mail header
> >>-----------------------
> >>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> >>Poster:       Scot LaFaive <spiderrmonkey at HOTMAIL.COM>
> >>Subject:      Double modal
> >>-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >>
> >>This weekend, while suffering through "Smoky Mountain Christmas" starring
> >>Lee Majors and Dolly Parton, I heard Lee Majors' character use a double
> >>modal ("might could"). This isn't thrilling (esp. considering that at least
> >>one of writers is from the South as is Lee Majors), but it did stand out a
> >>little. I was surprised that a cheesy, feel-good, mass market movie would
> >>use a double modal that might frighten the Northerners.
> >>Just thought it was worth noting.
> >>
> >>Scot
> >>
> >>_________________________________________________________________
> >>The MSN Entertainment Guide to Golden Globes is here.  Get all the scoop.
> >>
> >>
> >>------------------------------------------------------------
> >>The American Dialect Society -
> >
> >------------------------------------------------------------
> >The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Sam'l Clemens

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