[DWJ] Re: Gotten, was Re: DWJ on Bujold

Philip Belben philip at axeside.co.uk
Fri May 16 16:07:51 EDT 2008

Belatedly emerging from lurkdom as I catch up on the list...

Minnow wrote:
> 'Verbs that go to en' once led to me making a list, I forget why, and to my
> astonishment it is still around in a file called 'en-words'.
> bound, bounden (for bounded)            deliberately archaic

Er, doesn't "bounden" come from "bind" - "bounden duty", "Adam lay 
ybounden" and so on?

> Braze, brazen (for brazed)              deliberately archaic
> carve, carven (for carved)              deliberately archaic
> chide, chidden                          deliberately archaic
> drive, driven                           normal
> get, gotten (for got)                   deliberately archaic
> give, given                             normal
> prove, proven (for proved)              deliberately archaic

According to Fowler, proven is the past participle of the archaic 
Scottish verb to preve (preeve?).  Prove makes proved.

> rive, riven                             deliberately archaic
> strive, ? striven (?for strived?)       deliberately archaic
> write, written                          normal
> bright, brighten                        normal
> fright, frighten                        normal
> heighten (not "height" as a verb)       normal
> lighten (ditto)                         normal
> light down, lighten down (for lighted down)   deliberately archaic

First I would say you ought to distinguish verbs which form the past 
participle in -en (your list as far as write) from verbs whose 
infinitive is formed by tacking -en onto an adjective (all your -ighten 
verbs).  Fowler has a wonderful article on the latter, which I would 
quote except that my copy is at the office, but he points out that we 
can say redden and blacken but not bluen or greenen, thicken and fatten 
but not thinnen or leanen, and a whole long list that I find highly poetic.

On strong verbs that form the past participle in -en, they go in 
families.  There are several you've missed:

ride, ridden; hide, hidden; bid, bidden ("bide" makes "bided")

take, taken; shake, shaken; but make, made.

speak, spoken; break, broken; wake, woken.

shave, shaven; grave, graven: both archaisms (like carve, carven) except 
in a few contexts.

OK, that's as many as I can think of offhand.  Two interesting points 
about specific examples, though.

First, "hidden" has been having almost the opposite experience to 
"gotten".  The Prayer Book has a prayer that starts, "Almighty God, to 
whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are 
hid".  (This prayer is also notable for using the phrase "Holy Spirit" 
where Cranmer consistently used "Holy Ghost", but I digress.)  Modern 
versions of the prayer not only change the meaning by replacing the 
subjunctive "be" with an indicative "are" but also say "from whom no 
secrets are hidden".

The other interesting case is "woken".  I only conducted a very small 
survey - one internet list and one internet bulletin board - but I 
found, as I suspected, that an overwhelming majority of English speakers 
say "woken".  The OED has a reasonable majority of "woken" in its 
quotations - a large majority if you discount instances where metre 
requires a monosyllable.  But textbooks and educational software often 
have a strange preference for "waked".


More information about the Dwj mailing list