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  1. #1
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
    Frank Antonson is offline Senior Member
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    Default You better would!

    I dreamed that I was in a restaurant and said to someone, "You better would." A Texan, judging by his hat, was leaving; and before the door completely closed, I heard him snicker to a companion about having heard "You better would." In my dream I was so angry that I shouted after him, "What's wrong with that?" and then "You should learn to talk like that!" I was ready to fight it out with fists -- over the fact that he would disparage my speech. This was a dream. But, I have to wonder what it says about my attitude toward language in general and my dialect in particular.

    But, at a more universal level, I would like to know if anybody reading this forum can relate to the expression "You better would." It pretty clearly is a version of "You had better". "Had better" could be regarded as a forgotten helping verb -- a periphrastic version of "should". But something interesting about "You better would" is that it is never followed by a main verb -- only an understood main verb. I would never say "You better would eat.".

    My wife has suggested that it may be a vestige of a former use of "substandard" English for emphasis -- much like "Say it ain't so!", spoken by an intellectual for cuteness. In any case, at present I am not sure how to Reed-Kellogg it. I guess it is a simple subject followed by a helping verb with an understood main verb.

    Forum, you may be able to have fun with this. You better would.

  2. #2
    Leandro-Z's Avatar
    Leandro-Z is offline Member
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    Default Re: You better would!

    To my mind "you better would" refers to a way of giving advice, but at the same time warning somebody that, unless he or she does it, it will generate bad results in which you will be involved and take part in. I believe it is a sort of threat in a way.

    Good luck and success!!
    Last edited by Leandro-Z; 22-Oct-2010 at 23:53.

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: You better would!

    You could look on better as a kind of modal verb here, couldn't you? I presume the negative would be 'You better not would'.

  4. #4
    Rover_KE is online now Moderator
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    Default Re: You better would!

    I've never heard or read this expression before in my life.

    The only example of its use that Google can find is this thread.

    It's perhaps best left in your dream, Frank.

    Rover

  5. #5
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: You better would!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    You could look on better as a kind of modal verb here, couldn't you? I presume the negative would be 'You better not would'.
    Frank Palmer, then Professor of Linguistic Science at Reading University wrote:

    It was once, half-jokingly, suggested that English has three auxiliaries, [betɘ] [ɔːtɘ] and [gɔtɘ] (better, ought to and got to) … The first is related to had better ineg:

    You had better go.

    In the positive form, however, there is often no indication in speech of the had form even though it is written:

    You’d better go.

    But although interpretation in terms of had better is the traditional one, it results in a completely idiosyncratic form since HAVE does not otherwise occur with the bare infinitive:

    *You had go.

    I have actually heard children say:

    [betnt hi]

    This is not surprising – better sounds like ought to and is treated like it. But we can do no more than note that it is a most anomalous verbal form.

    Palmer, F R, (1974) The English Verb, London: Longman

  6. #6
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
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    Default Re: You better would!

    Well, the expression definitely exists in this area -- and not only in my dream.

    I have had time to think more about it, and I assume it is related to "You had better..." as in "You had better eat". That, of course, could become "You'd better eat", and I THINK it could become "You better had..." (Not too sure about "You better had eat".) But how "You better had" could turn into "You better would" is beyond me. At present, my wife's explanation of this as English perceived as substandard used for emphasis is the best that I have heard.

    It remains for me very curious.

    Incidentally, when I told my wife about this, she was annoyed that in my dream I had been ready to fight. Apparently the rooster filled with testosterone is not attractive to her.

    Frank

  7. #7
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: You better would!

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Antonson View Post
    Well, the expression definitely exists in this area -- and not only in my dream.

    I have had time to think more about it, and I assume it is related to "You had better..." as in "You had better eat". That, of course, could become "You'd better eat", and I THINK it could become "You better had..." (Not too sure about "You better had eat".) But how "You better had" could turn into "You better would" is beyond me. At present, my wife's explanation of this as English perceived as substandard used for emphasis is the best that I have heard.

    Frank
    I think that part of the problem is that expressions such as I'd rather and I'd better are simply awkward.They won't slot tidily into any neat system, and so appear to have been quietly pushed to one side by writers on grammar - because they can't provide convincing explanations, and because it is difficult to find agreement on what is 'acceptable' and what not. An additional uncertainty arises from the fact that these expressions are usually contracted, and that there is a similarity of implied meaning in such pairs as you'd better... and I'd rather you .... .

    I share your uncertainty about the words I have bolded (can I write that?) in your last posting. I have a similar uncertainty about the negative of 'd better. I THINK I always say you'd better not, and I THINK you hadn't better is unacceptable. But it's a 'think', not a 'know'.

    The problem with used to and ought to has also vexed writers. Did you used to . ... is clearly unacceptable logically, but I have seen it in print several times in recent months. This is possibly because, in speech, it is indistinguishable from did you use to ... . This last form is logically correct, but makes us unhappy because there is no present tense form use to ... . My English teachers 50 and more years ago didn't have a problem - they simply insisted that I wrote, and said used you to ... .But that sounded unnatural to me then, as it does today.

  8. #8
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
    Frank Antonson is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: You better would!

    How about "You had better eat" then "You better had eat" then the first contracted to "You'd better eat" then the second contracted to "You better'd eat" then coming out of the contraction as "You better would ...". In literature I believe this is a device called zeugma. Could it happen in speech over time? I know, this is a real stretch. Nonetheless, the expression exists in central Pennsylvania. Maybe there is an answer embedded in Pennsylvania Dutch (like " watfer (what for) car is that?" meaning "What kind of a car...": coming from "Wasfür..." in German. Maybe there is no explanation.

  9. #9
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: You better would!

    It is a real stretch, but you could be on to something. I'll think about it - after I've looked up zeugma in a good dictionary.

  10. #10
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: You better would!

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Antonson View Post
    At present, my wife's explanation of this as English perceived as substandard used for emphasis is the best that I have heard.
    There are things like you might should used in dialects, so it would be possible.

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