(Semi-)modals of necessity in Hong Kong and Indian Englishes

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In Standard Englishes the semi-modals need (to), want to and have to are gaining ground over central modals such as must (Leech 2013, for example). As a means of exploring the status of these verbs in Hong Kong and Indian Englishes, this paper analyses must, need (to), want to and have to from both a syntactic and a semantic point of view based on examples found in the International Corpus of English (ICE-HK and ICE-IND). It also compares these with examples drawn from the British English component of the ICE project (ICE-GB). Findings show that: (a) semantically, the behaviour of these (semi-) modals differs considerably from one variety to another; (b) the degree of grammaticalization of the semi-modals is lower in Indian English than in the other varieties; and (c) colloquialization and grammaticalization operate synergetically in the replacement of modals with semi-modals.


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