[Ads-l] "would have"

Salikoko Mufwene mufw at UCHICAGO.EDU
Mon Feb 1 01:23:01 UTC 2021

I think the epistemic construction with "must" is stronger than the 
French conditional construction. French has a counterpart of the 
epistemic "must" with "devoir" + past tense, although this may be used 
less often than its English counterpart with "must". The French 
conditional construction corresponds to 'probably' + past tense or past 
perfect. Yes, it has an evidential function.


On 1/31/2021 4:20 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> You said it!
> JL
> On Sun, Jan 31, 2021 at 4:23 PM Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
> wrote:
>> Interesting.  It almost seems like a calque of the French conditional,
>> which allows the same usage.  It’s a kind of quasi-evidential (where
>> epistemic “must (have)” is more of a standard evidential).
>>> On Jan 31, 2021, at 2:01 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
>> wrote:
>>> Used to indicate a past event known to have occurred:
>>> "Humans and chimps actually both evolved from a common ancestor (CHLCA)
>>> that lived around 8 million years ago. Eventually, the genetic lineage
>>> would have split two ways, giving rise to the precursors of hominids and
>>> modern apes."
>>> Brits especially use this construction to indicate something that almost
>>> certainly happened, but some doubt remains (virtually the same as  "must
>>> have").
>>> But the above usage seems not to imply that.
>>> JL
>>> --
>>> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the
>> truth."
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

Salikoko S. Mufwene                    s-mufwene at uchicago.edu
The Edward Carson Waller Distinguished Service Professor of Linguistics and the College
Professor, Committee on Evolutionary Biology
Professor, Committee on the Conceptual & Historical Studies of Science
Professor, Committee on African Studies
Extraordinary Professor, University of Western Cape, 2018-2021
University of Chicago                  773-702-8531; FAX 773-834-0924
Department of Linguistics
1115 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637, USA

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

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