Joyce Tang Boyland's study of

Handout for LING 319/519/SARS 319/519
Topics in Dravidian Linguistics:


  1. Introduction

    English would+have+past-participle' has been involved in a cluster of interesting phenomena:

    Does this mean something is being grammaticalized? JTB proposes that what is happening is morphologization (what H&T call a phase of grammaticalization )

    JTB presents quantitative data to show that have is being more 'tightly bound' to would:

    would [have PAST PARTICIPLE...]--> [ would have ] PAST PARTICIPLE...
    This seems to indicate that have is becoming affixed to would which is predictible because this is the most frequently occurring modal before have. The phonetic change (phonological reduction) and the morphosyntactic change are going together, and there is furthermore a cognitive process called chunking which together with the perceptual process of auditory grouping that are the plausible mechanisms for this.

  2. Background. When a sentence like We should have taken him out in 1991 is made interrogative with a WH-Q like 'when' we can get:

    When should we have taken him out?

    But we can also get (non-standard)

    When should we of taken him out?

    This only occurs in writing, since the vowel of of (if there is one at all) is the same as the vowel of 'have' i.e. [@v] (where @ = schwa).

    This is common in American non-standard, but also now appearing in British. Result: loss of 'identity' of the AUX 'have' and 'merger' (?) with the modal.

    When the conditional is used, even more reduction:

    If I had run faster... ---> If I'd a run faster

    which may actually be a reduction of (nonstandard, but 'hypercorrect')

    If I would have run faster... (instead of If I had..)

    Americans interpret 'd'a as underlyingly would have but Brits interpret it as had have (Harris 1984). (Discussion about what underlies the schwa here by various sources). Whatever the case, these elements are losing identity as separate pieces, and merging.

    Note all the NICE phenomena: (NICE = Negation, Inversion, Code, and Emphasis). (Examples in 7)

    One striking inversion is the one I already noted (above):

    What should've you done?

    Various reactions to and attitudes about this in terms of grammaticality. (See pg. 3)

    Can also involve fronting of other stuff, e.g. all as in 'But it would've all availed me nothing' instead of 'But it would all have ..." (example from 1840).

    This context (would-have) is the only one where 'have' can be contracted. (Gives examples of would-ve vs. starred *Wood-ve . (Proper name Wood).

    Also, this contraction occurs sometimes with preterit, not past-participle:

    • You should've took precautions.
    • You've *took precautions.

    Variation in function: the de-categorialization of woulda, coulda, shoulda which seem to be used as Nouns.

    Another peculiarity: repeated haves (examples in 14). Perhaps functions of have are splitting, with one incorporated as 'counterfactual' (and attached to would ) and the other for past-marking.

  3. Adverb Placement

    This study is based on advert placement and parentheticals from real usage corpora. The claim that grammaticalization is occurring must be based on data that show frequent usage. Since adverbs can occur "in any slot" we need data that show the choice of slotin normal usage, to show

           SLOT 1     SLOT 2
    SUBJ would     have     PAST-PARTICIPLE

    Study concentrated on would+have which are more frequent (479) than should+have and could+have (348 combined).

    Question: are interruptions more frequent in Slot 1 or in Slot 2?

  4. Interpretation

  5. Thus, Relation betwen prosody and other levels of ling structure, and between prosody and perceptual grouping, leads to (or allows) morphemes to excape their syntactic and lexical origin and get attached to other things (example of gonna where -na was once the infinitival to.

  6. Conclusion

    1. Corpus data show increased affinity (closeness) between would and have esp. in least formal registers (spoken language.)

    2. This is a step toward morphologization (erasure of morpheme boundary).

    3. Cognitive processes of chunking and auditory grouping perform major roles in this mechanism.
      last modified 3/15/05