Spilt/spilled milk

Rudolph C Troike rtroike at U.ARIZONA.EDU
Mon Dec 31 09:25:05 UTC 2001

In "Don't cry over spilt/spilled milk", either pronunciation is possible
for me, with no differentiation in meaning. My impression is that the
"spilt" form is almost entirely British, its survival in American being
vestigial. The alternation is not, I think, possible with all words even
in British English. One example which comes to mind is "I have learnt my
lesson" vs "He is a *learnt/learn-ed man", where the two past participles
have gone separate ways. Conversely, at least in US English, one may have
a burnt/burned match (though I suspect "burnt" is obsolescing), but not
a *burn-ed match.


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