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Thread: More Modals?

  1. #11
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    Re: More Modals?

    Do British English teachers teach Scottish variations like 'canna', and do they cover all regional accents with special phonetic spellings?
    I'm not going to try and teach all slang from everywhere. But I do try to teach the students how I speak, and I'm always clear about what's 'good English,' and what's 'just the way my family talks.' They know not to use most of the slang in a business context, but many of them also vacation in New York or Miami and I figure they should be as prepared as I am. (I don't know any New York slang.)

    Plus, everybody likes learning slang or anything 'bad.' I get more attention in that part of a lesson than I do in anything else. If I can use it to review modals, so much the better.

  2. #12
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    Re: More Modals?

    We seem to be discussing at least three separate issues in this thread:

    1. Is gotta a modal verb?
    2. Should we teach it?
    3. What about gonna, wanna, woulda, shoulda, coulda, would of, should of, could of?

    The answer to [1] is simple: NO. By the criteria most writers today accept for identifying modals, there are just nine core modals: can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will and would. Among the generally accepted criteria, just two will suffice to reject gotta:

    in forming negatives, the modal is placed before the negative word not –
    √ he will not do it; he gotta not do it

    in forming interrogatives, modals use inversion:
    √ will he do it?; gotta he do it?

    The answer to [2] surely depends on the students. I agree with Heterological when he writes, “I'm all in favor of teaching reductions and contractions to students. They're not at all the same as "slang;" they're important features of native speaker pronunciation.” However, for learners who need to write formal English and/or pass examinations, I would make it clear that, except in the most informal writing, these are spoken, not written forms.

    Part of the answer to [3] is the same as for [2]. They are normal (not ‘non-standard’, Raymott) pronunciations in the informal speech of very many native speakers, including educated ones. To this I would add the fact that few educated speakers would write gonna, wanna, and I suspect none would write would of, should of, could of, (because, as Heterological explained, they are incorrect). But it’s the spelling that is incorrect, not the pronunciation!

    My final points are in response to Raymott’s questions:

    Do British English teachers teach Scottish variations like 'canna'?
    No ,because canna is a dialect word, and I would not teach it except on a university course specifically looking at dialects. However, the expressions we have been discussing, better written as (for speakers from southern England) /gɒtə, wɒnə, wʊdə(v), ʃʊdə(v), kʊdə(v)/, are not dialect expressions; they are normal conversational spoken forms.

    and do they cover all regional accents with special phonetic spellings?
    On a university course specifically looking at dialects, yes – if by ‘phonetic spellings’ you mean using IPA symbols. On standard English courses at elementary levels I would not spend time on the dialects of English. However, on more advanced courses, I would draw the attention of students to some of the more important differences in pronunciation (and in vocabulary, grammar and spelling) between American and British English.

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    Re: More Modals?

    "Woulda" may be explained as a slurring of "would of" which is itself a colloquial and erroneous contraction of "would have." ok?

  4. #14
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    Re: More Modals?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    We seem to be discussing at least three separate issues in this thread:

    1. Is gotta a modal verb?
    2. Should we teach it?
    3. What about gonna, wanna, woulda, shoulda, coulda, would of, should of, could of?

    The answer to [1] is simple: NO. By the criteria most writers today accept for identifying modals, there are just nine core modals: can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will and would. Among the generally accepted criteria, just two will suffice to reject gotta:

    in forming negatives, the modal is placed before the negative word not –
    √ he will not do it; he gotta not do it

    in forming interrogatives, modals use inversion:
    √ will he do it?; gotta he do it?

    The answer to [2] surely depends on the students. I agree with Heterological when he writes, “I'm all in favor of teaching reductions and contractions to students. They're not at all the same as "slang;" they're important features of native speaker pronunciation.” However, for learners who need to write formal English and/or pass examinations, I would make it clear that, except in the most informal writing, these are spoken, not written forms.

    Part of the answer to [3] is the same as for [2]. They are normal (not ‘non-standard’, Raymott) pronunciations in the informal speech of very many native speakers, including educated ones. To this I would add the fact that few educated speakers would write gonna, wanna, and I suspect none would write would of, should of, could of, (because, as Heterological explained, they are incorrect). But it’s the spelling that is incorrect, not the pronunciation!

    My final points are in response to Raymott’s questions:

    Do British English teachers teach Scottish variations like 'canna'?
    No ,because canna is a dialect word, and I would not teach it except on a university course specifically looking at dialects. However, the expressions we have been discussing, better written as (for speakers from southern England) /gɒtə, wɒnə, wʊdə(v), ʃʊdə(v), kʊdə(v)/, are not dialect expressions; they are normal conversational spoken forms.

    and do they cover all regional accents with special phonetic spellings?
    On a university course specifically looking at dialects, yes – if by ‘phonetic spellings’ you mean using IPA symbols. On standard English courses at elementary levels I would not spend time on the dialects of English. However, on more advanced courses, I would draw the attention of students to some of the more important differences in pronunciation (and in vocabulary, grammar and spelling) between American and British English.
    Yes, I agree they aren't proper modal verbs, though apparently STCrowley is teaching them as such. If I remember correctly, I was initially going along with the OP's use of the term 'modal' to describe these other terms; but it was quite a while back now. Anyhow I seem to have been adequately corrected.

    Do you know that Ken Kesey used "could of" and "would of" throughout "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest"? - not just in dialogue either.

    "To this I would add the fact that few educated speakers would write gonna, wanna, and I suspect none would write would of, should of, could of, (because, as Heterological explained, they are incorrect)."
    This is begging the question. They are only incorrect (if they are) because educated speakers don't use them - not the inverse. You seem to be saying that they aren't incorrect in speech, but are in writing - apparently because this is what educated native speakers do.
    Last edited by Raymott; 18-Oct-2010 at 06:08.

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    Re: More Modals?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post

    The answer to [1] is simple: NO. By the criteria most writers today accept for identifying modals, there are just nine core modals: can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will and would.
    I think that's right. Most people use the term "modal" to refer to these only. But isn't it a misnomer? What people understand by "modality" hasn't changed, and still Wikipedia says "wish" and "want" are modal verbs. Maybe it would make the things clearer if we called these auxiliary modal verbs?
    Last edited by birdeen's call; 18-Oct-2010 at 12:19.

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    Re: More Modals?

    I think natural English should be taught whenever possible. Contractions like "gotta" and "gonna" need to understood by esl students.

  7. #17
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    Re: More Modals?

    If the British English teacher were from Scotland, they might teach that form as they might use it.

  8. #18
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    Re: More Modals?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    This is begging the question. They are only incorrect (if they are) because educated speakers don't use them - not the inverse. You seem to be saying that they aren't incorrect in speech, but are in writing - apparently because this is what educated native speakers do.

    We might need to start defining 'educated'.

    I see "should of" on a daily basis from people with university degrees.

    It saddens me to see it, and upsets me still more when I am met with blank looks when I explain why it's wrong. (Yes, I believe it is "wrong".)

  9. #19
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    Re: More Modals?

    [
    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    "To this I would add the fact that few educated speakers would write gonna, wanna, and I suspect none would write would of, should of, could of, (because, as Heterological explained, they are incorrect)."
    This is begging the question. They are only incorrect (if they are) because educated speakers don't use them - not the inverse. You seem to be saying that they aren't incorrect in speech, but are in writing - apparently because this is what educated native speakers do.
    Given that there is no Language Academy in England, for which relief much thanks, I used as my standard of ‘correctness’ in my English classes what was acceptable to me and my colleagues, usually educated speakers. When we were in doubt, we’d check with Quirk, Swan, Parrott, Yule and others. If most of these sources felt that something was not normal usage, or ‘incorrect’, then I’d go with that. I felt, and still feel, that it behoves me to tell my students this. So: these forms are incorrect in any form of formal writing. I have committed myself.

    It is not that these forms are ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ in speech. The forms we hear in informal conversation are what a laymen would represent as gonna, wanna, would of, should of, could of . We teachers would simply use IPA.

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    I think that's right. Most people use the term "modal" to refer to these only. But isn't it a misnomer? What people understand by "modality" hasn't changed, and still Wikipedia says "wish" and "want" are modal verbs. Maybe it would make the things clearer if we called these auxiliary modal verbs?
    I agree it would be helpful if writers agreed on terminology. One of the reasons that this is unlikely to happen is because there is so much disagreement on so many issues. Even today, for example, there is no universal agreement of the question of whether or not English has a future tense and, on the subject we are writing about in this thread, there is disagreement. F R Palmer, for example, treats used to and ought to as modals.

    Quote Originally Posted by youandcorey View Post
    I think natural English should be taught whenever possible. Contractions like "gotta" and "gonna" need to understood by esl students.
    I agree. They should be understood. But they should not be taught as acceptable written forms.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tullia View Post
    We might need to start defining 'educated'.

    I see "should of" on a daily basis from people with university degrees.

    It saddens me to see it, and upsets me still more when I am met with blank looks when I explain why it's wrong. (Yes, I believe it is "wrong".)
    It saddens me even more when I see it in the work of English Language teachers. It may gain acceptance one day, but it hasn’t yet,

  10. #20
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    Re: More Modals?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tullia View Post
    We might need to start defining 'educated'.

    I see "should of" on a daily basis from people with university degrees.

    It saddens me to see it, and upsets me still more when I am met with blank looks when I explain why it's wrong. (Yes, I believe it is "wrong".)
    I read this yesterday but it depressed me too much to respond to it at the time!
    I mean intelligent, educated people with at least some understanding of the language they speak, and who give a damn.
    Having a university degree is neither necessary nor sufficient.

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