A sociolinguistic perspective on the (quasi-)modals of obligation and necessity in Australian English
This article examines the distribution and sociolinguistic patterning of (quasi-)modals which express strong obligation/necessity, namely must, have to, have got to, got to and need to, in Australian English. Variationist studies in other varieties of English have had contrasting findings in terms of distributions of root forms, as well as their conditioning by social and linguistic factors. The corpus analysis suggests real-time increased use of need to and decrease in have got to through comparison to earlier findings. The variationist analysis shows quasi-modals have to, have got to and got to as sensitive to speaker age and sex, and a recent increase of have to via apparent time modelling. Linguistic conditioning relating to the type of obligation and subject form is also found. The study contributes to sociolinguistic understanding of this large-scale change in English and the place of Australian English amongst other varieties.
Keywords: Australian English, root modality, epistemic modality, quasi-modals, language change, age, sex, apparent time
Published online: 09 November 2020
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