Date: Tue, 19 Mar 1996 11:13:21 -0500

From: Ronald Butters amspeech[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ACPUB.DUKE.EDU

Subject: may/might distinction

Thanks for your comment on my question about the may/might distinction.

Of course, asking about whether or not your lack of a distinction was

"dialect" or "solecism" was a bit of a joke--the lack of a distinction

seems to be widespread among educated speakers in the English-speaking


I have collected over the past twenty years numerous print

examples from well-educated people of sentences like,

"If he didn't have to run against Anderson as well as Nixon, Hubert

Humphrey may have been elected president of the United States." Despite

my years of sensitivity training as a linguist who knows that "barbaric"

is not an appropriate term to use to characterize linguistic change in

progress, and not withstanding my realization that all sorts of

supereducated folks make

no may/might distinction, such sentences still strike me as ludicrous and


I'm wondering if there is anyone else left on the planet (or at least on

this mailing list) who shares my linguistic prejudice--or even

understands the semantic difference between MAY and MIGHT in the example

given above.