a request

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Tue Dec 19 14:02:05 UTC 2006

Thanks, Arnold. I read this list to learn stuff, and this is one way I learn.

Given this discussion, I need to ask a follow up question:

How would you describe what's going on in this construction that I've
noticed a couple of my students using in their writing:

"I use to write very poorly, but now I write better."
"I do things differently than I use to."

Is it just dropping the -d from a standard form, or is it use of a
non-standard form?

---Amy "I ain't no linguist though sometimes I think I'd like to be one" West

>Date:    Thu, 14 Dec 2006 08:32:32 -0800
>From:    "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
>Subject: Re: a request
>On Dec 14, 2006, at 6:48 AM, Amy West wrote:
>>  I've never seen this construction before.
>>  Are you sure it's not the use of the past participle? "I seen her
>>  yesterday"
>a side issue, but i'd like to point out (once again) that the "seen"
>in "I seen her yesterday" is *not* a past participle; it is a (non-
>standard, but incredibly widespread) *past tense* form.  for standard
>speakers, the word spelled "seen" is used only as the past participle
>of the verb "see"; for many non-standard speakers it is used as both
>the past tense and the past participle.
>similarly for non-standard past "done" in "I done it myself".  and,
>in the other direction, various non-standard past participles like
>"wrote" in "I've already wrote it".
>these forms are just regularizations of anomalies in the patterns of
>inflectional forms of verbs.  for all regular verbs (like "jump") and
>for a fair number of irregular ones (like "teach"), the past and past
>participle forms are phonologically identical: "jumped", "taught".
>"seen" for standard "saw" and "wrote" for standard "written", etc.
>extend this large-scale generalization to more verbs.
>the reason i pick on this little point is that talking the way amy
>did above takes the standard forms to be in some sense basic and
>talks about non-standard forms in the terms appropriate for the
>standard (rather than talking about them in their own right).  this
>is something i'm going to object to on this mailing list, which
>concerns itself with varieties of english (and other languages, where
>appropriate), each as a system on its own.

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