a quasi double modal on ESPN's Baseball Tonight

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Jun 20 04:27:20 UTC 2008

Now that the N. Y. Mets and Seattle Mariners have just fired their
managers, the question was posed on ESPN's Baseball Tonight as to
whether the floundering Toronto Blue Jays might be the third team to,
as they say, opt to go in a different direction, one of the talking
heads-- a man definitely not from the Texas/Arkansas/Louisiana

"They may well could be".

Presumably, "They may could be" itself would not have been possible,
but the intervention of the adverb seems to help somehow.  Hard to
test with my usual methods--there are 4880 reputed g-hits for "may
well could be", most apparently relevant, but "may could be" is
hopeless ("May could be among the least violent months of the Iraq
war", "'shall' and 'may' could be replaced by indicatives", etc.


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

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