A Fragment on Shall and May

Tillman, Seth Barrett and Tillman, Nora (2010) A Fragment on Shall and May. American Journal of Legal History, 50. p. 453. ISSN 0002-9319

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This short paper has some comments on the Constitution's use of the verbs "shall" and "may" (and "will"). We suggest that the American English of the founding generation was a more capacious language than its modern successor and that which came into being post-Noah Webster's first dictionary and grade school primer, A Grammatical Institute of the English Language, first published in 1783. As we explain more fully, where a word once had multiple meanings, but only one variant is now remembered and understood, we may be seriously mistaken when we ascribe near certainty to our understanding of how a constitutional term was used

Item Type: Article
Keywords: shall; may; will; Constitution; Anglo-English; American-English; Madison;
Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Law
Item ID: 2896
Depositing User: Seth Tillman
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2011 12:15
Journal or Publication Title: American Journal of Legal History
Refereed: Yes

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