Article published in:Grammatical Change in English World-Wide
Edited by Peter Collins
[Studies in Corpus Linguistics 67] 2015
► pp. 221–246
May and might in nineteenth century Irish English and English English
This paper discusses the use of may and might in 19th century Irish English and English English. It builds on Van Hattum (2012a), which found that in 18th and 19th century Irish English might Vinf was used in contexts requiring may/might have Ven in present-day English. This paper aims to find out if this development is due to regional or diachronic variation via a corpus-based study of these modals in 19th century Irish English and English English. The data shows no change in objective possibility contexts, but in subjective possibility contexts might loses the ability to signal past time, and thus requires a perfect to create a back-shifted interpretation of the proposition. Though the data show some small differences between Irish English and English English, generally it seems that the change identified in Van Hattum (2012a) is due to diachronic variation. Keywords: may, might, Irish English, 18th century, 19th century
Published online: 24 February 2015
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