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Micro-Syntactic Variation in North American English$
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Raffaella Zanuttini and Laurence Horn

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199367221

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199367221.001.0001

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We might should be thinking this way

We might should be thinking this way

Theory and Practice in the Study of Syntactic Variation

(p.269) Chapter 9 We might should be thinking this way
Micro-Syntactic Variation in North American English

J. Daniel Hasty

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates syntactic variation through both a theoretical and an empirical lens. From an overview of socially conditioned syntactic variation it is suggested that a major issue with extending the sociolinguistic variable to morphosyntax is a lack of differentiation between types of syntactic variables. The chapter argues that syntactic variables without clearly identifiable covariants may best be viewed as microparametric variation. The double modal construction is presented as a case study of this type of variable, and analyzed as microparametric variation involving the co-occurrence of an epistemic modal without syntactic tense and a root modal with tense. Additionally, results from a sociolinguist study of the social constraints on acceptability judgments of double modals are given, and methodological concerns in the empirical study of microparametric variation are highlighted.

Keywords:   double modals, syntactic variation, modality

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