Date: Wed, 25 May 1994 06:38:22 CDT From: Natalie Maynor Subject: Old Mail (topic: various) Although I'm still out of town, at least I'm on a Unix-to-Unix connection now, thank goodness, and can therefore lead a fairly normally e-mail life. Here's some bounced mail from week before last: > Date: Fri, 13 May 1994 23:11:50 -0400 > From: BITNET list server at UGA (1.7f) > Subject: ADS-L: error report from UCLAMVS > > The enclosed mail file, found in the ADS-L reader and shown under the spoolid > 2174 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 (95 lines) ------------------------- > Date: Fri, 13 May 94 20:10 PDT > From: benji wald > Subject: Re: Does Anybody Have Yesterday's Digest? > > 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 comment I've ever seen on it outside > of my own 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 that "hadda" is basically Southern, which, of course, includes Southern > California, 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 > conditional 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 Second Language 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 they will be arguing about how it started and spread, and have > a dim opinion of us for not noticing and documenting it. Benji Wald