Multiple modality is spread across the wider Atlantic region, both within individual varieties and across variety types. Based on corpus-based evidence, it is argued that first and second tiers of multiple modals carry high diagnostic value and that regionally separated Anglophone areas differ in their preference for first-and second-tier components in modal constructions. Semantics is a typological diagnostic, as there exists a continuum, the “Multiple Modal Belt,” that consists of three main clusters of varieties primarily differentiated by their respective compositional preferences: North American varieties favor epistemic ‘weak probability’ elements (e.g., might) as first-tier modals; Caribbean varieties favor ‘high probability’ or ‘certainty’ (e.g., must). Multiple causation and contact-induced change are offered as explanations for supra-and subregional variation in the Atlantic region, and there is strong evidence that the preference for second-tier components originally represented Scottish origin and subsequent diffusion with locally differing contact scenarios. Locally distinct preferences for semantic compositionality—particularly based on preference for first-tier ‘high-probability’ modals—are used to model a geo-typological clustering of varieties throughout the wider Atlantic region.
A Pan-Atlantic “Multiple Modal Belt”?
DAVIDE ZULLO teaches high-school English and middle-school German as a foreign language. After completing his graduate studies in English language and literature, with a focus in linguistics, at the University of Zurich (UZH), he dedicated himself to teaching. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
SIMONE E. PFENNINGER is associate professor of second-language acquisition and psycholinguistics at the University of Salzburg. Her principal research areas are multilingualism, psycholinguistics, and individual differences in second-language acquisition, especially with regard to quantitative approaches and statistical methods and techniques for language application in education. She is coeditor of the Second Language Acquisition book series for Multilingual Matters, secretary of the International Association of Multilingualism, and statistical advisor to the EuroSLA Studies book series. Email: email@example.com.
DANIEL SCHREIER is professor of English linguistics at the University of Zurich. His research interests include varieties of English around the world, contact-induced language and dialect change, variationist sociolinguistics, and the documentation of lesser-known varieties of English. He is author of several books on English in the South Atlantic and has published some 60 articles. He served as first editor of the Cambridge Handbook of World Englishes (2020) and as coeditor of English World-Wide (2013–19). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Davide Zullo, Simone E. Pfenninger, Daniel Schreier; A Pan-Atlantic “Multiple Modal Belt”?. American Speech 1 February 2021; 96 (1): 7–44. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-8620506
Download citation file: