Heard on The Judges: pronunciation, syntax, vocabulary

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri May 9 16:10:08 UTC 2008

At 10:31 AM -0400 5/9/08, Wilson Gray wrote:
>"What happened was that the steering wheel wouldn't turn."
>Judge Mathis: "Why didn't you step on the brakes, then?"
>Driver: "I did step on the brakes, but I _broke_ too late!"
>Passenger: "That's what happened, your honor. She _broke_ too late!"
>["Brake" falling together with "break" is new to me. It may be only a
>hapax uttered in the heat of the moment. But, you never know.]

This one is much more widespread than a hapax.  As you say, "brake"
and "break" have fallen together, but for many speakers.  A bit hard
to search for, for obvious reasons, but I know I've heard it.

The problem is even discussed on the web, as below.  (Note the
eloquently phrasing of the query.)


does the word break really is supposed to be "I broke too late and I
hit the car in front of me", not "I breaked too late and I hit the
car in front of me"? //frizabela -This unsigned comment was added by (talk * contribs) 2007-08-25T22:48:45.

     You're thinking of "braked". Rod (A. Smith) 04:19, 28 August 2007 (UTC)


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