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A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (Quirk et al.) says:

14.34 The subjunctive and modal auxiliaries in indirect speech
There is no indirect speech construction for the optative subjunctive (cf 11.39), but when it is used to express a wish the construction with may (with a possible backshift to might) is sometimes a near-equivalent:

'God bless America!' she said.
~ She expressed the wish that God might bless America.

In this "near-equivalent", might seems to be used to denote the same optative meaning as May in May God bless America!. Am I right about this?

If so, why would you need such an optative meaning of might when you already have the noun "wish", which denotes the optative meaning?

For example, I think it's entirely possible to use would instead in the near-equivalent:

She expressed the wish that God would bless America.

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  • 2
    Take a look at Fillmore's classic "May We Come In?" to see about the various senses of may in English. Jan 22, 2023 at 0:35
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In this "near-equivalent", might seems to be used to denote the same optative meaning as May in May God bless America!. Am I right about this?

Yes. That said, as CGEL notes, this is only sometimes true, because "might" does not necessarily have an optative meaning in this context. The word "might" here can just express possibility: "She feared that God might curse America" is also valid.

If so, why would you need such an optative meaning of might when you already have the noun "wish", which denotes the optative meaning?

In this context, the two are indeed redundant; "would" and "might" would both be correct here, though perhaps "might" reinforces the optative connotation.

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