Now that the university library at Leiden subscribes to Cambridge Histories Online, it is possible to have access to books like the Cambridge History of the English Language without having to search for the book in the English Reading Room. Great, if you are working from home! Scanning David Denison’s chapter on Syntax in Volume 4 of the series (1776-1997) to find out what he says about Jane Austen’s use of grammar, I came across the following reference:
Barber claims that placement of light time-adverbs before an unemphatic auxiliary … is a recent Americanism in BrE (1964:141)
The reference is to Charles Barber’s Linguistic Change in Present-Day English (1964), and example sentences given by Denison include He never does appear (from Jane Austen’s letters), if he ever will see it (from and Keats’s letters) and [whom] I never could abide (from Gaskell’s Mary Barton). These examples can indeed barely be called recent, so it is hard to see why Barber called the usage that. More interestingly perhaps, he calls them Americanisms. But why, if they seem common during the nineteenth century already?
And something else I would be interested in, are people still worried by Americanisms in British English today?