image of The post-modal grammaticalisation of concessive may and might
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The decline of certain core modals in English, including and , is a well-documented phenomenon (cf. Daugs 2017). It is less clear, however, whether this tendency will lead to the loss of these modals or whether other changes are also underway. I aim to address this issue by looking at the use of and in concessive clauses. I will first present the results of a corpus study (COHA) aimed at understanding the diachronic development of concessive and . The analysis reveals a significant increase of and in concessive contexts since the 1960s, especially in factual concessives with . This new finding is important as it shows that, though decreasing in frequency, the two modals are developing new patterns of use. This raises the question whether the status of and as modal verbs is also changing. I argue that the two verbs are going through a process of post-modal (secondary) grammaticalisation and constructionalisation, and that the concessive meaning is linked to the more complex ‘ {/} VP, -’ construction. I also claim that, within the paradigm of concessive constructions, those with and are best viewed as hedged concessives that serve politeness purposes.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keywords: post-modal grammaticalisation ; hedging ; concessive ; may ; might ; politeness
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