I believe I’ve mentioned before that one of the changes going on in English that distresses me the most (I say “going on” out of a combination of nostalgia and wilful blindness—the fact is that it’s already happened) is the obsolescence of the contrary-to-fact past “might have.” I can’t remember the last time I heard it used, and I’m slowly beginning to wince less ferociously when I hear “if he’d run faster he may have caught the ball”; I suppose before I die I’ll become more or less accustomed to it, though I don’t imagine I’ll actually take it up myself. I seem to have made the unconscious assumption, however, that it was an American phenomenon, so I was shocked anew just now, listening to an interview with a British author named Caryl Phillips, to hear him say “If I lived there [England], it may not be as easy for me to see the changes.” Now, as is apparent from the quote itself, he has not actually lived in England for years; an online biography says “Born in St. Kitts on March 13, 1958, he moved to England after just one year. There he took an honors B.A. at Oxford and began his blossoming writing career. He has since taken up a home in Amherst as well, where he serves as writer in residence.” It is possible, therefore, that he picked up this distressing verbal remodeling here in the US, and that in the mother country they still say “it might not be as easy.” Can anyone enlighten me on usage in the UK (or, for that matter, elsewhere in the Anglophone world)?
A side note: the interviewer pronounced the writer’s given name as if it were spelled “Carl,” whereas I’ve always said it as if it were “Carroll.” Does anyone know whether the first pronunciation is correct (ie, the one the writer uses) or whether the interviewer was simply trying to avoid sounding as if he were talking about a woman named Carol?