This article examines the variation between try to and try and in two major varieties of English, Canadian and British. Embedding our research in earlier studies of corpora, we extend our knowledge of this phenomenon to vernacular community-based dialect data. Comparative sociolinguistic analysis and statistical methods establish the significant mechanisms underlying the alternation. Unexpected social patterns in the United Kingdom point to a change in the social evaluation of try and. Also, despite divergent external influences, there are similar internal constraints of tense and lexical verb. The authors propose that these constraints are a holdover from reanalysis in the seventeenth-century and the semantic fossilization of try and before certain verbs. They conclude that social factors may divide the major varieties of English, but longitudinal linguistic patterns endure.

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