Edited by Merja Kytö and Lucia Siebers
[Varieties of English Around the World G66] 2022
► pp. 89–122
This article investigates the time-depth of three groups of present-day morphological Americanisms: past participle gotten, new strong verbs (dove, snuck), and regularized verbs (burned, learned, dreamed). Relating corpus-linguistic evidence to metalinguistic comments shows that even if the divergence from British English started in the nineteenth century, this was often not noticed or commented on; besides, the dominant discourse in nineteenth-century America was one of legitimizing American forms by referring to British parallels. In all cases, myth building (of American English as more innovative, or American English as more conservative) only happened after the fact, and is largely a twentieth-century development; prescriptive sources were thus not instrumental in actively dissociating American English from British English in the 1800s.