The Southern American English expression fixin’ to has its roots in the lexical verb to fix. The expression has developed in English for over six centuries, from a concrete transitive verb of Latin origin, through intransitive phases that included complements of either for + gerund or nonfinite verb phrases, and eventually to a quasi-modal with both deontic and epistemic senses of assessment, acknowledgement, and response to compelling or obligating circumstances. Syntactic and semantic tests are offered to argue that fixin’ to clearly belongs in the family of American English quasi-modals, which also includes be bound to, be going to, and be supposed to. It is hypothesized that the expression bears a special semantic value implying that the speaker (1) is aware of and has evaluated a situation; (2) acknowledges a resulting pressing obligation or compulsion—typically, but not always, in the first person—to act/to happen; and (3) is preparing to address the situation forthwith. Finally, it is claimed that this special semantic value of fixin’ to is why the expression has withstood the pressures of stigmatization and remains in the everyday lexicon of Southern American English Speakers.

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