"May" trying to do Might's job

Mark A. Mandel mamandel at LDC.UPENN.EDU
Thu May 3 13:51:45 UTC 2007

scripsit AM:
Heard on NPR news this morning  (roughly):

 New intelligence reports reveal that the public transport bombings in
 London, 2005 ,* may * have been averted since some of the perpetrators had
 been identified, were under observation and overheard planning the attack.

Some amnesiac or other innocent getting information from this source  would
be relieved to learn of the  happy outcome.

There's a lot of that going around; I thought it had been discussed here,
but maybe not. I've given up on it. For many people, "might" has become
restricted to the sense 'possible, but not likely', maybe with 'nonpast' as
a further restriction.

m a m

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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