Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Mon Apr 12 18:29:38 UTC 2010

On Apr 12, 2010, at 9:44 AM, Darla Wells wrote:

> They used to tell us kids to quieten down and I heard boughten a few
> times
> too usually with was...

the "boughten" thread (which was about the inflection suffix PSP -en,
as in standard "taken", "broken", "stolen" -- plus standard adjectives
historically derived from PSP forms of verbs, as in standard "sunken"
and "woven") is now running off the rails, with the inclusion of other
suffixes of the form -en, in particular the -en that derives
(inchoative and/or causative) verbs from adjectives (as in standard
"brighten", "loosen", "moisten").  the only thing that these
formatives share is the phonological stuff in a suffix -en.

"boughten" in a nonstandard PSP, most commonly used as an adjective.
"quieten" is a nonstandard causative/inchoative verb (usable in all
inflectional forms), an alternative to the zero-derived verb "quiet".

on April 11 Grant Barrett referred to the MWDEU entry on "quieten" --
which is, however, about the caus/incho verb, not about a PSP form of
the verb "quiet".

also on April 11 Herb Stahlke reported:
   Googling the strings "frosten a/the cake" and "frostening a/the cake"
turned up a total of 20 valid hits.

but this is again a (nonstandard) causative verb, in this case
"frosten" 'put frosting on', not a PSP form of a verb, as you can see
from the fact that the forms Herb cites are a base (BSE) form and a
PRP form.  the verb "frosten" has a PST "frostened" and a PSP

PST:  I made them anyway, poured the batter into cake pans, and
frostened [it/them] with cream cheese frosting.

PSP: Plus, they were all frostened up with yummy cream cheese icing.

(there seems to be a nonstandard inchoative verb "frosten" 'to become
frosty' as well.)

Michael Quinion's Ologies and Isms site ( )
lists *five* distinct suffixes with the phonological shape -en:

en1: forming verbs from nouns and adjectives (the causative/inchoative

en2: forming adjectives from nouns ("earthen", "oaken", "leaden")

en3: forming past participles of strong verbs

en4: forming noun plurals ("oxen", "children")

en5: forming diminutives of nouns ("kitten", "maiden")

none of them are productive, and en5 is entirely dead.  the others are
subject to variation in nonstandard usage and are available for
analogical extensions in nonstandard usage and for jocular creations
(like "Vaxen" as the plural of "Vax").


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