Edited by Ewa Jonsson and Tove Larsson
[Studies in Corpus Linguistics 97] 2020
► pp. 187–204
I trace the history of the American English (AmE) past participle gotten, widely (but wrongly) regarded as a historical retention of an earlier BrE form. As corpus data shows, gotten almost died out in American English as well, but was then revived. Although get is found mainly in speech-related text types, the revival of gotten is not an innovation from below – contrary to linguistic intuition. Instead, its rise was promoted by careful writers who deliberately avoided the highly stigmatized stative have got. This explains why the perfect form gotten appears in more formal text types first, and how gotten became specialized to dynamic contexts only. AmE gotten is thus a curious case of an unintended side-effect of marginally successful prescriptivism.