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"What Bees to Be Maun Be": Aspects of deontic and epistemic modality in a northern dialect of Irish English

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Karen CorriganORCiD


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Irish-English (IrE) as a contact vernacular permits tense, mood and aspect categories to be marked in a manner which distinguishes this variety from all other world Englishes. Researchers, however, have been preoccupied with its distinctive tense and aspect markers and much less is known about the manner in which IrE modal relations are expressed. This paper attempts to redress the imbalance by comparing aspects of modality in IrE and other English varieties and by introducing a morphosyntactic syntagm termed “modal be+to” which can be used to express both deontic and epistemic modality. The marker is frequent in Northern Irish Englishes and a detailed account of its use in the South Armagh vernacular is offered here. In addition, attention will be given to locating the potential sources of be+to as the product of a language contact situation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Corrigan KP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: English World-Wide: A Journal of Varieties of English

Year: 2000

Volume: 21

Issue: 1

Pages: 25-62

ISSN (print): 0172-8865

ISSN (electronic): 1569-9730

Publisher: John Benjamins Publishing Co.


DOI: 10.1075/eww.21.1.03cor


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