Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 13:22:42 -0400


Subject: Re: Double/Multiple Modals

A great discussion! Kudos to all. I remember talking to James Sledd in

the summer of 1971, where he taught summers at Montana State University,

Bozeman. I was fresh out of Chomskyan UCLA training, and couldn't figure

out this old coot, a dyed-in-the-wool structuralist who would have

nothing to do with this new-fangled transformational stuff. And guess

what?! He pointed to the existence of double modals as an Achilles heel

for TG -- which I guess today would extend to GB and others as well.

Little did I know then that I was a year away from flushing it all down

the toilet in the face of an American Indian language, Cheyenne, in which

a word can be a sentence -- LONG on morphology and short on syntax.

Whatever happened to morphosyntax anyway?

I had a Chaucer class with him in 1972 in which he noted the idyllic beauty

of a forest scene in the Canterbury Tales, a forest inhabited by agents of

the devil but uninvaded by modern technology. In that lecture he expressed

dismay that the stream in which he flyfished every summer in Montana was

ruined by the daily passing of commercial airlines overhead. He had a

similar (but private) lecture on the barking of hounds in Sir Gawain and

the Green Knight. He was fascinated with a school of English critics in

the 1920s and 1930s who claimed that no great poet ever rode in an


What a great teacher! I learned my Middle English, you better believe me.

Wayne Glowka

Professor of English

Director of Research and Graduate Student Services

Georgia College

Milledgeville, GA 31061