This paper proffers a corpus-based study of the modal auxiliary need and its lexical counterpart need to in four Asian varieties of English, viz. Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippine and Indian English, in comparison to British and American English. We investigate the distribution of need and need to in positive and negative polarity contexts, their recent frequency evolution in these contexts, and the interregional differences. We characterize the changes and the differences in terms of five properties and observe that these properties change differently in different varieties. This calls for a more comprehensive inquiry into the evolution of the frequency of the modals of necessity. The paper also provides methodological justification for drawing diachronic conclusions from a comparison of synchronic written and spoken data. Keywords: need (to); polarity, Asian Englishes; American and British English
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