Could of/should of and Canadian English

Could of/should of are older than we think: elsewhere in this blog I reported on their occurrence already in 18th-century English. It is also the feature in the Attitudes Survey that calls for the most comments, mostly negative (very negative!) but sometimes also neutral. In the Survey, I focus – for this study anyway – on British and American English only, but that doesn’t mean we are not interested in other varieties. We are already slowly branching out actually, as yesterday’s Database Launch demonstrated.

Here is an instance from Canadian English, from Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin which I’m reading, a somewhat different one:

“You can tell by the look of her,” said Reenie. “Anyway if she’d had any offer at all, even if the man had three heads and a tail, she’d of grabbed him quick as a snake” (p. 158).

Reenie is the family’s housekeeper, but Atwood doesn’t normally make her use non-standard grammar like this, so it stood out. Another passage that stood out, and for similar reasons, is the following. The speaker is Walter, the protagonist’s driver and general handyman, and Reenie’s son-in-law:

“I would of took the pickup,” he said, “built like a brick shithouse, give the buggers something to think about before ramming into me. Only there’s a few strings gone, so it’s not  such a smooth ride.”

Any other instances, British, American, Canadian, or any other English variety, modern or historical?

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