[Ads-l] "were pick'n up"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Mar 2 01:16:24 UTC 2015

> On Mar 1, 2015, at 6:49 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at ATT.NET> wrote:
> At 3/1/2015 03:54 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> > On Mar 1, 2015, at 2:48 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at ATT.NET> wrote:
>> >
>> > "Twenty-three shell casings were picken up on the street outside the house."  Or perhaps "pick'n".
>> >
>> > Report of multiple shots from the street into a house, killing a woman sleeping in her bed.  WBZ-AM (Boston) radio news.
>> >
>> > I have to hope this was merely a momentary Zungefehler, not immediately corrected.
>> Why hope for that?  I have to hope it was intentional, a relic of the old passive participle, as has been argued for in the case of "spitten image" (not to be confused with "smitten image" as my autocorrect is urging on me).
>> "Picken up" shows up in searches from the 19th c. on the string "were picken up" in e.g.
>> The bench was strewn with portions of the wreck. Kegs of ale were picken up, and this beverage revi[v]ed many who were too weak to stand.
>> Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 23, Number 3545, 8 August 1862
>> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__cdnc.ucr.edu_cgi-2Dbin_cdnc-3Fa-3Dd-26d-3DSDU18620808.2.2.1&d=AwIBAg&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=m476M3aGLWwaMIrlcgTPnSM1m8jySG5D-_tnFdxreYw&s=L5zR7VEFfGKpF-AZfN_VBBwSkJgjR_L-43ndd2nf068&e= 
>> But there's also this one, rather more recent, from a One Direction blog, which doesn't involve a scan (although I suppose it may involve a typo):
>> On the ride there, when you were picken up by your sister, you were sitting with Niall, squeezing his hand due to nerves. His parents were behind you and in the back were all the bags of luggage.
>> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__under-2Dthe-2Dlights-2D1d.tumblr.com_post_34741331069_niall-2Dimagine-2Dfor-2Dgracie&d=AwIBAg&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=m476M3aGLWwaMIrlcgTPnSM1m8jySG5D-_tnFdxreYw&s=y4JGoJxf6rTWCyvDtRCLPsimZcxWQ-DseQDYcW-8iK0&e= 
>> I haven't looked through the others in detail; there are only 32 hits for "were picked up" in all.
>> Slim pickens, I'll concede, especially since some involve mis-scans while others represent what "should" be the active progressive, "were pickin' up".
> In context, the utterance was not the progressive, but the simple past, so not a slurred "were pickin[g] up".  My dialect is "were picked up."

Yes, most of ours is.  But the context is a passive use, not what I'd call simple past if that's a preterit:

The police picked up the shell casings:   Simple past
The shell casings were picked up by the police:  Verbal passive (in past).
The police were picking up the shell casings:  Past progressive.
The shell casings were spoken for:  Adjectival passive (in past)

We're not in disagreement, except for the value judgment.  And I agree that "the lawn was newly mown" with an adjectival participle sounds a lot more likely than "the lawn was mown by my neighbor", with a verbal one.  More likely, and not so awful, in the present context:  "The sidewalk was snow-blown by my neighbor."  But as noted below, chaque mot a son histoire; "the sidewalk was snow-blowed" is *really* weird.    


>>  But I'd like to think of "picken up" as a formerly established and now dialectal relic variant like "store-boughten", "spitten", "(be)shitten", etc.
> A Boston media announcer using a dialectal relic?  I'm ashamed for my city.
>> Still, I have to grant that its syntax makes "picken" less likely here, given that the participle in the Boston radio example is a verb, contrary to the general pattern.
> Yes, a verb, not a participial adjective (if I've used the right term).  The verbal use was what especially drew my attention.  Even I might say "newly mown lawn," etc.
> Joel
>> This is from in an earlier (2010) posting of mine on a "boughten" thread:
>> > Even if "chaque mot a son histoire", there are probably
>> > some parallels among these -en archaisms.  A number of -(e)n
>> > participles are partially or fully retained in adjectival
>> > use--boughten loaves, spitten images, [new-]mown lawns, graven
>> > images, [clean-]shaven faces, [mis]shapen bodies, [un]proven
>> > allegations--after they've completely or, as with "proven" largely,
>> > fallen out of use as verbal past/passive participles.
>> LH
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