University of Oulu

COATS, S. (2023). Double modals in contemporary British and Irish speech. English Language & Linguistics, 1-26. doi:10.1017/S1360674323000126

Double modals in contemporary British and Irish speech

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Author: Coats, Steven1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Cambridge University Press, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-05-08


This article reports on the use of double modals, a non-standard syntactic feature, in the contemporary speech of the UK and Ireland. Most data on the geographic extent of the feature and its combinatorial types come from surveys or acceptability ratings or from older attestations focused on northern England, Scotland or Northern Ireland, with relatively few attestations in naturalistic data and from England and Wales. Manual verification of double modals in a large corpus of geolocated Automatic Speech Recognition transcripts from YouTube videos of local government channels from the UK and Ireland shows that the feature exhibits a larger inventory of combinatorial types than has previously been found and is attested in speech from throughout the UK and Ireland. The development may be related to ongoing changes in the semantic space occupied by modal auxiliaries in English.

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Series: English language & linguistics
ISSN: 1360-6743
ISSN-E: 1469-4379
ISSN-L: 1360-6743
Issue: Online first
DOI: 10.1017/s1360674323000126
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 6121 Languages
Copyright information: © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution and reproduction, provided the original article is properly cited.