Chapter published in:Late Modern English: Novel encounters
Edited by Merja Kytö and Erik Smitterberg
[Studies in Language Companion Series 214] 2020
► pp. 68–90
The myth of American English gotten as a historical retention
In this article, I investigate where and when the myth of American English as a conservative variety originates, and how it has become linked to the verb form gotten in particular. Drawing on corpus materials, prescriptive grammar writers of the time, publications on Americanisms, and nineteenth-century newspaper articles, this article shows that gotten is not a historical retention, but was revived in the nineteenth century in American English. However, this revival was not linked (yet) to the idea of it being a specific American form. Once this indexical link was established, however, it seems to have fuelled the rise of gotten further. The concept of gotten as indexing AmE linguistic conservativism is thus indeed a myth (if a powerful one).
Published online: 18 March 2020
AHN America’s Historical Newspapers
contains over 1,000 newspapers published between 1690 and 1922, available at http://infoweb.newsbank.com.
NCNP Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers
contains ca. 1.7 million articles from 1800–1900, available at http://find.galegroup.com/ncnp.
2017 Get, get-constructions and the get-passive in 19th-century English: Corpus analysis and prescriptive comments. In Exploring Recent Diachrony: Corpus Studies of Lexicogrammar and Language Practices in Late Modern English [Studies in Variation, Contacts and Change in English 18], Sebastian Hoffmann, Andrea Sand & Sabine Arndt-Lappe (eds). Helsinki: Varieng, Department of Modern Languages, University of Helsinki. http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/series/volumes/18/anderwald/
Forthcoming. Historical retention, progressive nation or the eye of the beholder? The evolution of morphological Americanisms. In Earlier North-American Englishes, Merja Kytö & Lucia Siebers eds Amsterdam John Benjamins
Bartlett, John Russell
Baskervill, William M. & Sewell, J. W.
1825 The American Instructer; Calculated to Succeed the English, and other Spelling-Books; Containing a Selection of the Principal Part of the Words in Common Use, Divided, Accented, Defined, and their Pronunciation Accurately Pointed out. Adapted to the Orthography and Pronunciation of Walker Interspersed with Instructive and Entertaining Reading Lessons; to which is Added a Comprehensive Abridgment of English Grammar. Troy: E. Platt & Co.
1851 The Grammar of English Grammars, with an Introduction Historical and Critical; the Whole Methodically Arranged and Amply Illustrated; with Forms of Correcting and of Parsing, Improprieties for Correction, Examples for Parsing, Questions for Examination, Exercises for Writing, Observations for the Advanced Student, Decisions and Proofs for the Settlement of Disputed Points, Occasional Strictures and Defences, an Exhibition of the Several Methods of Analysis, and a Key to the Oral Exercises: to which are Added Four Appendixes, Pertaining Separately to the Four Parts of Grammar. New York NY: Samuel S. & William Wood.
2010– The Corpus of Historical American English: 400 million words, 1810–2009. http://corpus.byu.edu/coha/
Ellis, Alexander J.
1869 On Early English Pronunciation, with Especial Reference to Shakspere and Chaucer, Containing an Investigation of the Correspondence of Writing with Speech in England, from the Anglosaxon Period to the Existing Received and Dialectal Forms, with a Systematic Notation of Spoken Sounds by Means of the Ordinary Printing Types. Vol. I: On the Pronunciation of the XIVth, XVIth, XVIIth, and XVIIIth Centuries. London: Published for the Philological Society by Asher & Co.; and for the Early English Text Society, and the Chaucer Society, by Trübner & Co.
Farmer, John S.
1889 Americanisms – Old & New: A Dictionary of Words, Phrases and Colloquialisms Peculiar to the United States, British America, the West Indies, &c. &c, Their Derivation, Meaning and Application, Together with Numerous Anecdotal, Historical, Explanatory, and Folk-Lore Notes. E.C.: Privately printed by Thomas Poulter.
Hallock, Edward J.
Kenyon, William Colgrove
Mencken, Henry L.
Milroy, James & Milroy, Lesley
Nevalainen, Terttu & Tieken-Boon van Ostade, Ingrid
2011– Oxford English Dictionary Online. Oxford: OUP. www.oed.com
1816 A Vocabulary, or Collection of Words and Phrases which have been Supposed to be Peculiar to the United States of America. To which is Prefixed an Essay on the Present State of the English Language in the United States. Originally Published in the Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and now Republished with Corrections and Additions. Boston MA: Cummings & Hilliard.
Pue, Hugh A.
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Quirk, Randolph, Greenbaum, Sidney, Leech, Geoffrey & Svartvik, Jan
Schele de Vere, Maximilian
Thornton, Richard H.
Trudgill, Peter & Hannah, Jean
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Cited by 1 other publications
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