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 diagnostic typologically as there exists a continuum, the “Multiple Modal Belt,” which consists of three main clusters that are primarily differentiated by their respective compositional preferences: North American varieties favor epistemic ‘weak probability’ elements (~might) as first-tier modals, Caribbean varieties ‘high probability’ or ‘certainty’ (~must). Multiple causation and contact-induced change are offered as explanations for supra- and sub-regional 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 is an English teacher at high-school level and teacher of German as a foreign language at middle-school level. After completing his graduate studies in English language and literature with a focus in linguistics at the University of Zurich (UZH), he left university to dedicate himself to the teaching profession.
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 SLA, especially in regard to quantitative approaches and statistical methods and techniques for language application in education. She is co-editor 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.
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. Schreier is author of several books on English in the South Atlantic and published some 60 articles. He served as first editor of the Cambridge Handbook of World Englishes (2020) and served as co-editor of English World-Wide from 2013-2019.
Davide Zullo, Simone E. Pfenninger, Daniel Schreier; A pan-Atlantic ‘multiple modal belt’?. American Speech doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-8620506
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