Woods wrote:Also I would've assimilated the voice behind the "s" into the "t" in the past: "Did you use to go there" (Did you [ˈjʉʊ̯stə] go there). Maybe if I say "This is the knife I use to slice the cheese", I could put some voice behind the "s" is I say it slowly or emphasise it, but if I say it fast probably not. Would you?
I might, but there's still a difference in the length of the stressed vowel. So simple past used to
and non-past use to
fall together, but both remain distinct from past habitual used to
Woods wrote:But after all, isn't the pronunciation supposed to follow the grammar and not vice-versa?
The point is that the underlying grammar is changing, and the pronunciation reflects that. The problem is that we have (in careful speech) three different pronunciations but only two conventional spellings to choose from.
Woods wrote:So shouldn't we just write "Did you [ˈjʉʊ̯stə] go there too?" as "Did you use to go there" and let the speaker pronounce in the way that's most natural to them? After all both "used to" (the thing I used to do that with) and "used to" (do something) come from the same place, and are the same word - why would we adapt grammar to match its two divergent pronunciations?
That's begging the question. The divergent pronunciations suggest that we are, in fact, not dealing with "the same word". Habitual use to
clearly originates in a combination of use
, but it doesn't have the same meaning as other collocations of use
, and that is reflected in the pronunciation.
Woods wrote:When you're saying that "used to" is in the process of being grammaticalised, does that mean that it wasn't very common to use it in any other forms than a basic affirmative?
Whether it was or not, I'm using "grammaticalise" as a term of art specific to linguistics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammaticalization
has some features in common with the class of modal verbs
in English, despite the fact that it expresses aspect and not modality. It's not a true modal, however, since it can't be used interrogatively without do
-support. (I.e. *"Used he to live here?") Its usage most closely resembles that of have to
/have got to
, which has largely ousted the true modal must
in colloquial speech. It probably makes the most sense to class it as an aspectual construction in which use
plays the role of an auxiliary verb. (For a bit more on this construction and its usage, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_markers_of_habitual_aspect#Used_to
Woods wrote:By the way, I just noticed you write the -ise verbs with the British ending even though you are from the US - is there a reason for that or is it your personal preference?