Aikman's Texan English

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Tue Sep 25 17:08:13 UTC 2007

On Sep 25, 2007, at 7:49 AM, Dennis Preston wrote:

> Isn't this counterfactual double had different from the double
> perfects referenced in most of this lit?

i didn't intend to claim that they're *exactly* the same.  but in
fact, i think they're very similar, and are probably related.

one large class of double perfect "had have" examples is in fact
counterfactual, and these are the examples that the literature is
almost entirely about.  e.g.,

Alfred Ayres, The Verbalist (1882), p. 197:
   Another error is made in such sentences as these: " If I had have
known " : say, had known. " If he had have come as he promised " :
say, had come. ...

*all* the examples in the MWDEU entry are of "had have" in
counterfactual contexts.

what these do is split the counterfactual perfect "had" (as in "if I
had known...) into two words, one expressing mood (counterfactuality)
and one expressing tense (anteriority).

so my first guess about the double perfect "had had" examples was
that they're extensions of this pattern.  but see below.

> There is no double perfect
> in the standard "Had I had enough good sense back in 19xx---," where
> the second had is MV.

yes, that's right.  these examples are just irrelevant to the
question at hand.  they do cause a problem for corpus searches,
though; searching on "had had" pulls up way too much stuff, most of
it just standard past perfects of HAVE.  that's why i searched on
"had had been".  this pulls up some irrelevancies, but also a fair
amount of gold.  this stuff is not counterfactual, however -- e.g.:

... the Court agreed with the District Court that the alibi relating
to the relevant period (1942-1943) had had been completely rebutted
while - in view of ...

Afraid of being arrested, they reported that they had had been
repeatedly raped by the black youth and forced to remain where they
had been discovered. ...

I took it for granted that she had had been required to wear the
hijab, when that was not the case at all. It was simply a personal
observance of her faith. ...

quite a few of the examples are from the19th century.  i've selected
a few more recent ones above.

in any case, double perfect "had had" is alive and well.  but is aiken's

   Had Carlos had been looking into the backfield and seen where that
ball was bein' thrown, he had...

an example of it?  it could, after all, just be a blend of the two
counterfactual constructions in:

   Had Carlos been looking...
   If Carlos had been looking...


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