Double modal

Alice Faber faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU
Thu Dec 28 20:28:39 UTC 2006

Scot LaFaive wrote:
> Sorry, I was just joking. There is nothing wrong with the double modal
> construction. It's just not used around here and I would say most
> Wisconsinites don't have it as part of their grammar (that's what I mean
> when I say "ungrammatical" for us). It's perfectly grammatical for others,
> such as yourself, since it is part of your grammar. I still say that most
> people around here get confused by double modals because they don't
> exist in
> their grammars and they are very foreign. Everyone I've talked to (not just
> questioned) around here seems to consider double modals semantically
> unintelligible, or at least confusing. It's just odd for us to use two
> modals like "might" and "could" together in a clause.
> Double modals are ok with me. Don't worry, I am not following in the
> footsteps Mr. Z here.

When you say that folks in your area find double modals confusing and
even unintelligible, is that in response to a direct question? If so,
that just means they can't deal with them metalinguistically. However,
if you have "in the wild" observations of actual confusion brought about
by a speaker's using a double modal construction, that would be
interesting indeed.

Alice Faber                                     faber at
Haskins Laboratories                          tel: (203) 865-6163 x258
New Haven, CT 06511 USA                             fax (203) 865-8963

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