A challenge to authors!

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A challenge to authors!

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mar 9, 2009, 8:01am

...particularly American authors. Try and write a book without using the word 'gotten'! Or if you're English the word 'got'. Or am I the only one who finds them intensely irritating and a mark of laziness?

mar 9, 2009, 9:26am

Denne meddelelse er blevet slettet af dens forfatter.

Redigeret: mar 9, 2009, 11:35am

The over-reliance on any one word to the exclusion of its synonyms may be an indication of laziness. But I think the other extreme would be just as annoying.

Edited for HTML.

mar 9, 2009, 5:35pm

I find them irritating, but not because of laziness - I just don't care for the way they sound. There are so many beautiful words that can be used, and then there's 'got' and 'gotten.' ;)

Redigeret: mar 9, 2009, 5:48pm

>1 Boussiroux:, I'm not sure that I understand the problem. Is it that you think "got" and "gotten" are improper past and past participle (respectively) forms of the verb "to get"? Are they non-standard in some other way? Or do you personally just not like the way they sound? If the latter, what makes you think that your opinion is of such import that anyone would accept your "challenge"? Do you object to the use of "got" and "gotten" in dialogue, or only in narration? Are you really so sure that there presently exist no specimens of American literature that avoid the use of "gotten"? If such a work exists (and I'm fairly certain that one does), why challenge anyone to write another one?

mar 9, 2009, 5:49pm

Got and gotten are perfectly cromulent words.

mar 9, 2009, 10:04pm

fleela, I don't know the word "cromulent," but I like the sound of it. Have you submitted that to the following thread? http://www.librarything.com/topic/58757

mar 9, 2009, 10:14pm

I'm with polutropon: I don't "get" what it is you object to or how a particular past or past participle form equates to laziness. Can you give a couple examples to put it into context? Do you find irritating: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son"?

On another tack, in this LT group, I've been campaigning to explain that linguistics is all about the love of language, not complaining and judging. However, if you insist on starting yet another "judging" thread, my prescriptive school teachers would have shuddered at your usage of "try and" as opposed to "try to."

mar 10, 2009, 1:44am

"Cromulent", grammaragoddess, is from the "Simpson's" Television show. See:


mar 10, 2009, 1:48am

Let's have more knuckle-rapping! :D

*loans grammargoddess a ruler*

mar 10, 2009, 1:50am

lends grammargoddess a ruler


mar 10, 2009, 2:02am

I don't think it could be done without dropping realistic dialogue/voice. "Gotten laid" comes to mind, closely followed by "got out of the car".

But then, does your complaint extend to phrasal verbs? But it must. Why else do people use "gotten" in the first place?

mar 10, 2009, 2:28am


Usage note:
Sometimes mistakenly identified as an Americanism, loan1 as a verb meaning “to lend” has been used in English for nearly 800 years: Nearby villages loaned clothing and other supplies to the flood-ravaged town. The occasional objections to loan as a verb referring to things other than money, are comparatively recent. Loan is standard in all contexts but is perhaps most common in financial ones: The government has loaned money to farmers to purchase seed.

But wait, there's more!

Usage Note: The verb loan is well established in American usage and cannot be considered incorrect. The frequent objections to the form by American grammarians may have originated from a provincial deference to British critics, who long ago labeled the usage a typical Americanism. Loan is, however, used to describe only physical transactions, as of money or goods; for figurative transactions, lend is correct: Distance lends enchantment. The allusions lend the work a classical tone.

*takes back the ruler and raps rdurick*

mar 10, 2009, 3:01am

Alot of changes that happen in manuscripts are the work of the editor!

mar 10, 2009, 9:21am

Speaking as a Brit, I rather like 'gotten', a relict of an older British English. I prefer it because 'got' is not only lazy, which indeed it is, but also pain ugly to my ear.

Redigeret: mar 10, 2009, 11:40pm

>13 Collectorator:, Good usage note. But since no *actual* ruler was involved, isn't there a sense in which the "ruler" at issue was the object of a merely "figurative transaction," in which case "lends" is the correct verb?


What a good group this is.

mar 11, 2009, 12:08am

:) I wondered if I would get caught up in that ... !!

mar 11, 2009, 5:02am

>16 polutropon:

A group, indeed, in which the medium is definitely the massage!


mar 20, 2009, 10:48am

He got up, got dressed, got his breakfast. He then got on his horse. When he got to his destination.....

He arose, dressed himself and ate his breakfast. He mounted his horse. When he arrived at his destination...

I'm paraphrasing something that someone else wrote many years ago. My objection is that in many instances where "got" and "gotten" are employed there are other more appropriate verbs that should be used. Of course, both are perfectly good words but only in the correct context.

mar 20, 2009, 10:54am

>19 Boussiroux:. It's the should-ness of your comment that is bothersome. Sure, "He arose and dressed himself," is perfectly grammatical English, but the feel of it is not-so-faintly Victorian. If you were trying to describe what goes on in a college dorm room when the alarm clock sounds, it wouldn't do at all. You'd say, "He got up and got dressed."

So yeah, it's a problem if the author uses "got" or "gotten" when something more demure is called for, but it's also a problem if he fails to use them where laxity is called for. Of course, if you're just advocating that authors should try to use the right word at the right time, I doubt you'll get many disagreements.

mar 20, 2009, 12:25pm

Hmm, "Mount up on your horsey, and get on out of here." Seems to be missing something... ;)

(Okay, I guess you didn't specifically dictate dialogue had to be free of the offending word... :) )

mar 20, 2009, 6:11pm

"He got dressed" feels very right and natural to me. "He dressed himself" brings to mind something a mother would excitedly say of her three-year-old, meaning he finally didn't need to be dressed by someone else. Perhaps that's just me, though. For economy, I'd lean toward "He dressed."

mar 20, 2009, 6:46pm

"demure"? How about using a little variety? Using "got" for every other verb is boooooooring!

mar 20, 2009, 7:07pm

>23 erilarlo:, First of all, nobody has suggested that a good writer would use "got" for every other verb. A good writer uses the right word at the right time. Secondly, variety is not the only standard by which word choice is measured; I rather like the sound of the sentence, "He got up and got dressed," though that may just be a matter of personal taste. It has a pleasant symmetry, an up-then-down-ness to it that I like.

Finally, I stand by my own word choice: I think "demure" does accurately capture the connotative difference between, "He arose and dressed himself," and, "He got up and got dressed."

mar 21, 2009, 1:40am

LOL. When I was a kid my brother and I had this game where we tried to never use the word "what." It got tough after a while....

"Please tell me the title of that thing in the corner."
"I don't understand the thing you said."
"Please say that again?"
Sounds awkward!

mar 21, 2009, 4:29am

25 - okay, that game sounds fucking amazing and I'm TOTALLY gonna bring it up with my friends.

jan 15, 2010, 6:14pm

Grab your coat and procure your hat Leave your worries on the doorstep Life can be so sweet . . .

jan 16, 2010, 4:00am

#13 On the subject of loan, loaned and lend, I once has an assistant who said to me "I borrowed him my car".

I don't know where he picked up that doozy but I have heard it before. Hopefully it is exclusively Australian. :)

jan 17, 2010, 7:14am

Nope, I've heard it (rarely, and usually from younger people who enjoy wordplay (two slightly overlapping sets)) in the US. New England and Northern California - but it was some of the same people (one of them my sister) in both places, so the California one may have been a result of exposure to her.

Redigeret: jan 17, 2010, 12:02pm

What I find irritating is when some people (whilst perhaps trying to sound superior?) say or write "try and" rather than "try to".

As they say, "different strokes for different folks" I guess.

EDIT: My Goodness! I just noticed that the original message was posted months and months ago!

jan 17, 2010, 12:05pm

So? Still interesting. That's one of the nice things about LT - a conversation can end and then restart with new participants months later.

jan 17, 2010, 12:13pm

This has really gotten on my nerves!