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'Gotten' poll, the livejournal edition - Input Junkie
November 14th, 2010
01:31 pm

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'Gotten' poll, the livejournal edition
To my considerable annoyance, the poll isn't duplicated over to livejournal, so here's a copy for those who would rather answer here. Please do substantive answers for only one of the polls.

Do you consider 'gotten' to be part of British English?

Do you consider 'gotten' to be part of British English?
1(5.0%)
Sometimes I hear Brits using it, but it's an Americanism
4(20.0%)
Yes, Brits are mistaken about it not being part of their English and so is Wikipedia
0(0.0%)
In some British dialects, but not all
7(35.0%)
Other, ticky box, cats, I wish to complain about this poll
8(40.0%)


Anything further about regional variation or to what extent you notice differences between dialects (I'm not good at it) is welcome. If you feel an impulse to translate this post into British English, please don't suppress it.

(24 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:richardthinks
Date:November 14th, 2010 07:30 pm (UTC)
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If "gotten" has become a part of British English then I no longer know what the category means.

I'm perplexed by the poll here, which seems to include the question among the answers, but perhaps that's a British thing?
From:nancylebov
Date:November 15th, 2010 12:00 am (UTC)
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Sorry, that was a cut and paste in a hurry error.
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From:dcseain
Date:November 14th, 2010 07:33 pm (UTC)
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"gotten" is archaic in British English, and many dialects on NA English. It's alive and well in the Mid-Atlantic, Appalachia, and The South. I New England, i found it's understood, but considered weird.
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From:nancylebov
Date:November 15th, 2010 12:17 am (UTC)
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The DailyG's link has it that 'gotten' is more common in New England, but that little essay may have been written in British English.

For all I know, it's common in some parts of New England and fading away in others.
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From:chickenfeet2003
Date:November 14th, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC)
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Everybody understands the phrase "ill gotten gains" and "gotten" also appears in Psalm 98 in the Book of Common Prayer; "With his own right hand and with his holy arm; hath he gotten himself the victory".

So clearly "standard" in British English at some point though now archaic in standard British English. I'd be surprised if it had entirely disappeared as a dialect variant though I don't think it's used in the principal dialects that I understand; Lancashire, West Yorkshire and Durham. Based on it's distribution in the US I'd guess it comes from either Ulster English (in turn derived from Borders speech) or, more, likely from south/southwest England but not southeast or east midlands or it would have shown up in New England.

Edited at 2010-11-14 08:03 pm (UTC)
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From:lethargic_man
Date:November 15th, 2010 12:53 pm (UTC)
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"Ill-gotten gains" is acceptable British English because the word's being used in a different linguistic context there: it's a past participle rather than part of the verbal past tense
From:thedailyg.wordpress.com
Date:November 14th, 2010 08:32 pm (UTC)
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What this says:

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_gotten_correct_grammar

I hear and use it every day, though more likely in speech than in writing.

Does this mean I have to tick the last box? See, I don't really think it's a dialect thing even if it may be more prominent in some regions. I can't tick the middle/third box because I have never had the opinion that it's an Americanism or heard anyone else say so.
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From:richardthinks
Date:November 15th, 2010 05:58 am (UTC)
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Ayrshire, eh? I never heard it in Cornwall or the south of England except as part of certain fixed phrases ("ill gotten gains" shows up here). It always sounded American to me - though, obviously, also archaic. Like a poorly muffled car engine. My American son is now getting "corrected" by his British teachers in France when he uses it.
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From:thnidu
Date:November 14th, 2010 10:34 pm (UTC)
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Oxford English Dictionary:
In England the form gotten of the past participle is almost obsolete (except dialectally) being superseded by got; in U.S. literature gotten is still very common

New Oxford American Dictionary:
past participle of get.
(USAGE As past participles of get, the words got and gotten both date back to Middle English. In North American English, got and gotten are not identical in use. Gotten usually implies the process of obtaining something ("he has gotten two tickets for the show"), while got implies the state of possession or ownership ("he hasn't got any money").)

Dr. Whom, Consulting Linguist, Grammarian, Orthoëpist, and Philological Busybody


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From:dcseain
Date:November 15th, 2010 12:21 am (UTC)
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Yep, i agree completely with the usage difference between gotten and got; they ar not interchangeable in meaning.
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From:whswhs
Date:November 15th, 2010 12:58 am (UTC)
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Yes, and in fact that's almost exactly the explanation I would give. I could say "I've gotten sick and tired of X" but never "I've got sick and tired of X"; I could say "I've got a headache" but never "I've gotten a headache." Though I think there are cases where the two could both fit with contrastive meanings.
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From:dcseain
Date:November 15th, 2010 01:11 am (UTC)
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I've gotten a headache due to tooth problems, though happily not recently.
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From:whswhs
Date:November 15th, 2010 03:30 am (UTC)
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Well, all right, that's a fair call. Though I would say "I've gotten headaches" for consistency of number. The sentence I first thought of, and couldn't bring back to mind, was "I've got a good appetite." I suppose you might contrive some set of circumstances where you would specify past circumstances where you had a good appetite, but the sentence tout court seems to require "got."
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From:richardthinks
Date:November 15th, 2010 07:53 am (UTC)
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sorry to jump all over this (again), but: perhaps it seems American to British ears because it seems like a case of izationalhoodianism - the practice of adding redundant syllables to words as, most famously, burglarized - which likewise strikes speakers of British as an American thing.
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From:nancylebov
Date:November 15th, 2010 09:26 am (UTC)
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Izationalhoodianism-- is this a word?

I'm usually willing to accept language changes, but 'pressurized' used to mean psychological pressure really gets on my nerves.
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From:richardthinks
Date:November 15th, 2010 09:38 am (UTC)
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Alas, google doesn't recognise it, so I guess I must have made it up.

...this happens quite rarely these days: I'll usually think I've made something up, only to discover that it already has its own forum and tvtropes page.
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From:lethargic_man
Date:November 15th, 2010 12:50 pm (UTC)
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Actually, "burglarised" is, technically, correct: "burgle" is a back-formation from "burglar".

(Doesn't stop it being a blot on the language, though; and I'll happily use "burgled" myself...)
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From:richardthinks
Date:November 15th, 2010 05:44 pm (UTC)
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Alas, after all that I end up getting schooled on the one Americanism I felt sure of. I shall have to resort to "robbed" in future.
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From:whswhs
Date:November 16th, 2010 04:19 am (UTC)
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The technical legal meaning does not support that usage: "robbery" means being relieved of your property through the use or threat of violence, and it's classified as a violent crime, not a property crime. "My house was robbed" is nonsense in legal language. Of course, anyone who's not a lawyer or a pedant will understand what you mean.

Or you could say "broken into."
(Deleted comment)
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From:whswhs
Date:November 15th, 2010 03:35 pm (UTC)
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I find it perplexing that anyone has difficulty with it. Basically, in American English, "I have got" means "I have": I've got a headache, I've got five hundred dollars to spend, I've got a bone to pick with you. "I have gotten" is the present perfect of "to get" used as an actual verb: I get sick and tired of X/I've gotten sick and tired of X, I'm gettting married/I've gotten married, I get paid on alternate Fridays/I've just gotten paid. It's the common linguistic pattern of grammaticalization where a word gets phonetically worn down as its meaning becomes more abstract and nonspecific.

On the other hand, I understand the pattern where a British writer would say "it's vitally important that he goes to Uzbekistan" rather than "that he go," and I'm perfectly capable of typing it; but I would never do so, because it sounds unspeakably silly. So we're both ruled by custom and usage.

(On the other hand, changing "philosopher's stone" to "sorcerer's stone" is just wrong.)
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From:richardthinks
Date:November 15th, 2010 03:53 pm (UTC)
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"it's vitally important that he goes to Uzbekistan" sounds plain wrong to me, too. Although I haven't lived in Britain these past 15 years, so my ear might have turned.

That's an under-reported aspect of the migrating business, BTW: I lost contact with British popular culture less than 5 years after leaving the country, and the news around the same time. At 15 years I no longer feel like an authority on anything British: the language, the politics, even the history have changed to the point where I can't report on them with confidence. In the meantime, my knowledge of America is only about good enough to fool Brits with.
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From:mneme
Date:November 15th, 2010 08:03 pm (UTC)
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How should I know? I'm not fluent in British English.
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From:nancylebov
Date:November 16th, 2010 02:12 am (UTC)
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Oops-- I did the LJ version hastily, and forgot to include the bit about for speakers of British English only.

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From:subnumine
Date:November 17th, 2010 06:14 pm (UTC)
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The OED says that "gotten" is almost obsolete in British English, except dialectically but quotes from good eighteenth and nineteenth-century authors: Hume, Steele, Johnson, Jane Austen, Maria Edgeworth; few of these are from the South of England, which may help to explain the Wikipedia claim. There are only twenty samples in the BBC corpus of spoken English.
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