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A pan-Atlantic 'multiple modal belt'?


Zullo, Davide; Pfenninger, Simone E; Schreier, Daniel (2021). A pan-Atlantic 'multiple modal belt'? American Speech: a Quarterly of Linguistic Usage, 96(1):7-44.

Abstract

Multiple modality is spread across the wider Atlantic region, both within individual varieties and across variety types. Based on corpus-based evidence, it is argued that first and second tiers of multiple modals carry high diagnostic value and that regionally separated Anglophone areas differ in their preference for first- and second-tier components in modal constructions. Semantics is a diagnostic typologically as there exists a continuum, the “Multiple Modal Belt,” which consists of three main clusters that are primarily differentiated by their respective compositional preferences: North American varieties favor epistemic ‘weak probability’ elements (~might) as first-tier modals, Caribbean varieties ‘high probability’ or ‘certainty’ (~must). Multiple causation and contact-induced change are offered as explanations for supra- and sub-regional variation in the Atlantic region, and there is strong evidence that the preference for second-tier components originally represented Scottish origin and subsequent diffusion with locally differing contact scenarios. Locally distinct preferences for semantic compositionality – particularly based on preference for first-tier ‘high-probability’ modals – are used to model a geo-typological clustering of varieties throughout the wider Atlantic region.

Abstract

Multiple modality is spread across the wider Atlantic region, both within individual varieties and across variety types. Based on corpus-based evidence, it is argued that first and second tiers of multiple modals carry high diagnostic value and that regionally separated Anglophone areas differ in their preference for first- and second-tier components in modal constructions. Semantics is a diagnostic typologically as there exists a continuum, the “Multiple Modal Belt,” which consists of three main clusters that are primarily differentiated by their respective compositional preferences: North American varieties favor epistemic ‘weak probability’ elements (~might) as first-tier modals, Caribbean varieties ‘high probability’ or ‘certainty’ (~must). Multiple causation and contact-induced change are offered as explanations for supra- and sub-regional variation in the Atlantic region, and there is strong evidence that the preference for second-tier components originally represented Scottish origin and subsequent diffusion with locally differing contact scenarios. Locally distinct preferences for semantic compositionality – particularly based on preference for first-tier ‘high-probability’ modals – are used to model a geo-typological clustering of varieties throughout the wider Atlantic region.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
06 Faculty of Arts > Zurich Center for Linguistics
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Communication
Social Sciences & Humanities > Language and Linguistics
Social Sciences & Humanities > Linguistics and Language
Uncontrolled Keywords:Multiple modality, dialect typology, Atlantic Englishes, semantic tier probability, English language change
Language:English
Date:1 February 2021
Deposited On:03 Feb 2021 07:46
Last Modified:27 Jan 2022 05:13
Publisher:Duke University Press
ISSN:0003-1283
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-8620506
Related URLs:https://read.dukeupress.edu/american-speech (Publisher)

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