The Old English Preterite Plural Lives!

hstahlke at ATT.NET hstahlke at ATT.NET
Thu Nov 29 16:15:10 UTC 2001

I just finished with an undergrad HEL class in which we
were talking about the development of OE strong verbs
into ModE.  One of the minor developments we covered was
the analogical rise of new strong verb forms like
dive/dove and sneak/snuck.  At this point one student,
who grew up in Phoenix, astonished me by saying that she
also has the form [snUk] (rhymes with look) and that she
uses it only in the plural:  I [snAk] but we [snUk].  I
surveyed the class to see if anyone else had heard or
used this form, and a student from St. Louis confirmed
it, that she heard it in the speech of her teenage son
and his friends.  Obviously, this is not a reversal of
merger restoring the lost OE preterite plural, but it
does create a new preterite plural form.  Has anyone
heard this usage or forms like it?  Has anything been
written about it?

Herb Stahlke
Ball State University

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