nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,

How quoth survived, and the unrelated history of quoted

Defective verbs:
It belongs to a class of verbs we call defective verbs. These are verbs exhibiting an incomplete conjugation, which means the verb doesn’t have a (modern) form for every tense, aspect, mood, or person. Modal auxiliaries are prime examples; take can for example, which has a preterite form, could, but it doesn’t have a present or past participle. The verb must is an even more extreme case as there isn’t even a past form. An example of a lexical defective verb would be beware because bewares, bewared, or bewaring aren’t normally used in present-day English. With quoth, we have the 1st and 3rd person sing. past tense form still being known to speakers, which is rather interesting and unusual, and if it weren’t for “The Raven”, who knows if we would still know about this verb. We also don’t use it anymore unless we want to write a fancy poem with archaic language.

Etymology of quote, and I really like that there was a word for that:
late 14c., coten, “to mark (a book) with chapter numbers or marginal references,” from Old French coter, from Medieval Latin quotare ”distinguish by numbers, number chapters,” from Latin quotus ”which in order? what number (in sequence)?,” from quot ”how many,” from PIE *kwo-ti-, from pronomial root *kwo- (see who).

Link found at nwhyte.

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