Multiple modals

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Fri Dec 29 16:08:11 UTC 2006

In a message dated 12/28/06 3:29:13 PM, faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU writes:

> When you say that folks in your area find double modals confusing and
> even unintelligible, is that in response to a direct question?
1. Generally, multiple modals do not appear in a questions, in my experience.
2. Someone else suggested that his mother-in-law negates the first modal (You
might couldn't say that)--this also seems to me to be pretty rare.
Pragmatically, there would be little reason for it, since it conveys the same thing as
the non-negated form.
3. I call these ''multiple modals'' rather than ''double modals'' because one
can have three: "You might should oughta ..."
4. Multiple modals are not confined to the South. I'm not sure about
Wisconsin, but in eastern Iowa I have heard, from the natives, "You might oughta pay
attention to me young man." My father used to say that all the time.
5. Historically--maybe not today, I dunno--one or more double modals is/are
listed for east-central Pennsylvania in the dialect.
6. All of this, of course, is in the archives, since this topic has been
discussed many times here. This is not to say that I am complaining about re-do's,
just that anyone who wants to check the archives can find more information.
(I can also send anyone who wants it an offprint of an old article I did no
this subject.)

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