Date: Wed, 25 May 1994 06:53:49 CDT
From: Natalie Maynor maynor[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]CS.MSSTATE.EDU
Subject: More Old Mail ("would")
Have I already forwarded this one? I'm getting confused. If this is
a duplicate, please accept my apologies. I'll be home soon, and life will
return to normal.
Date: Mon, 16 May 1994 20:22:52 -0400
From: BITNET list server at UGA (1.7f) LISTSERV[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]uga.cc.uga.edu
Subject: ADS-L: error report from UCLAMVS
The enclosed mail file, found in the ADS-L reader and shown under the spoolid
8980 in the console log, has been identified as a possible delivery error
notice for the following reason: "Sender:", "From:" or "Reply-To:" field
pointing to the list has been found in mail body.
----------------- Message in error (136 lines) -------------------------
Date: Mon, 16 May 94 17:20 PDT
From: benji wald IBENAWJ[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UCLAMVS.BITNET
Subject: Re: Re: The text and beyond Cynthia.
Hey! What happened to the ANYMORE discussion. I was gonna give a big spiel
on positive anymore, but only as compensation for changing the
subject. Now I see that the list is so volatile that I can
dispense with that discussion-- unless anybody wants to hear it
-- and just change the subject.
If I WDA KNOWN YOU WERE COMIN I'D A BAKED A CAKE
IF I HADDA KNOWN ...IF I WD KNOW YOU WERE COMIN ..
IF I WD KNOW SPANISH I CD GET A BETTER JOB
IF I WD BE YOU I WDN'T DO THAT
Do any of these strike anybody out there as peculiar? Which?
Why? Where are YOU from?
The main point, of course, is the "non-root" use of the WOULD in if clauses.
This seems to be sweeping the country in the last generation
from problematic origins. It is not part of my original New
York City dialect, but I've even noticed it there recently. The only
mention I've seen of it, outside of my own work, is Trudgill &
Hannah's assertion that it is "American". Trudgill's the expert on
British dialects, but I suspect it came to the US from Britain even if
it hasn't survived there. The "hadda", of course, is attested in
Britain at least as far back as Caxton. Jespersen says it's a back formation
from contracted 'd ( would) to "had", so ... In the US my impression is
t hat "hadda" is basically Southern, which, of course, includes
Southern Californ ia, since I think the definition of "Southern"
is any place where it's lower class to maintain the "which/witch" distinction.
Although spread of the modal (or its equivalent) from the consequent to the
con ditional clause is a commonplace across languages, there
seem to be subtleties to the use of "would" according to the
distinction between active and stative verbs, hence the strangeness of
when I was six years old I WOULD (= USED TO) live across the street
from the school.
That's why I carefully chose the examples I gave above. I first became aware
of WD in if-clauses in studying the East LA community, a bilingual
English-Spanish community with English dominance. When I told
a class I thought it was Spanish influence I lost authority,
because the students told me "everybody" in LA talks like that.
They were right. Like other things you don't notice till you
notice, then I noticed it just about everywhere. However, there seem to be
constraints along the lines I suggested above. These are what interest me
most, but I'm also interested in the current geographical
distribution of "hadda" and where, if anywhere, there is
across-the-board insistence on the simple pasts in if-clauses of such
conditionals, my native dialect -- but unfortunately for interpreting
judgments, also the standard. I've written about the problems
involved and the subtleties in an article in
Norbert Dittmar, ed. (1993) Modality and Langage Acquisition.
Berlin: De Gruyter
(I forgot the exact name of the article, something about
modality in East LA with notes on general American modal use in speech)
where I concentrate on East LA and limitations to linguistic assimilation.
But there's a lot more to be done on its use in other American
English dialects, and that can affect to some extent the
conclusions I reached even in that paper. I fear that if it is not attended
to until the next generation it will have already taken over,
it seems to be spreading that quickly, and scholars will be arguing
about how it started and spread, and have a dim opinion of us
for not noticing and documenting it. Benji Wald
Dennis, I sent this out to the ADSL line in general a few days ago,
attached to something Natalie Maynor had sent in, but Natalie told me that
I didn't delete or add something to the address (which I still don't
understand how (it) works) and it did not get out to the list. Then she
told me she's in NY on an unfamiliar computer and doesn't know how to
forward it to the list. I'm telling you in case it happens this time too,
since now it's attached to one of your messages.
[Aha. This explains why I was confused about whether I had already
forwarded it. The problem, btw, wasn't that I was at an unfamiliar
computer. The problem was that I was telnetting through the VM system
at CUNY to the Unix system at Mississippi State. VM (or CMS) is
incompatible with the rest of the world (which is why IBM mainframes
are becoming dinosaurs). The mail bounced because you didn't delete
the header lines that referred to ADS-L. LISTSERV won't let mail go
through with those lines in the body of it. It's a loop-preventive.
By the way, readers should realise that it's not just a change taking
place in "if" clauses but in all "subjunctivoid" clauses, e.g., I wish
you WDV/had(da) told me, I wish I WD know/knew the answer (somebody's
gotta think this one's wierd) etc. Benji again.