LINGUIST List 6.473

Thu 30 Mar 1995

Disc: Whatever happened to HAD /'D?

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  1. Binghamton U, SUNY, -0500 (EST)

Message 1: -0500 (EST)

Date: Tue, 28 Mar 1995 12:57:49 -0500 (EST)
From: Binghamton U, SUNY <>
Subject: -0500 (EST)

On Sun, 26 Mar 1995, The Linguist List said:

) Subject: 6.435 Sum: Whatever happened to HAD /'D?

) Date: Fri, 24 Mar 1995 15:16:32 GMT+1000
) From:
) Subject: Summary: Whatever happened to 'd?
) Many people found analogies with other modals that do not invert, e.g.
) Claudia Brugman mentions the difficulty of inverting 'She has to stop')
) *'Has she to stop?' and GOTTA is equally impossible to invert. James
) Kirchner also mentions OTTA as a similar case. Tamara Al-Kasey compares
) the negative and the affirmative interrogatives: *'Had she better stop?'
) and 'Hadn't she better stop?' suggesting that the latter is more
) acceptable.

For me, both of the interrogative forms are fine, though the latter is
surely more frequent for discourse reasons. Moreover, the parallel
between BETTER and OTTA strikes me as very great:

 1. We all {BETTER/OTTA} stick to our knitting.
 2. Had(n't) we all {B/O} stick to our knitting?
 3. Most of them {B/O} be leaving now to catch the bus.
 4. Had(n't) most of them {B/O} be leaving now?
 5. Do(n't) you think our noisy friends {B/O} {shut up/be quiet}?

All of these examples cast doubt on the applicability of Roger Lass's
comments to my own usage:

) "In my dialect anyhow (New York City middle class), it's certainly
) normal to say (and sometimes, in less formal registers, to write),
) I better, you better, he better, we better, they better ...
) Observe though: all the pronouns end with a vowel, and there are
) alternative forms, e.g. I'd better ... though these are much less
) common.

H. Stephen Straight, Binghamton University (SUNY)
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