Etiquette Hell

A Civil World. Off-topic discussions on a variety of topics. Guests, register for forum membership to see all the boards. => Trans-Atlantic Knowledge Exchange => Topic started by: Flora Louise on June 22, 2012, 02:41:20 PM

Title: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: Flora Louise on June 22, 2012, 02:41:20 PM
Learnt instead of learned.  Smelt rather than smelled. Is this common pronunciation and how did it evolve?
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: Tilt Fairy on June 22, 2012, 03:10:41 PM
oh yeah!...I never realised we did that. I hear it and do it all the time. In fact after your post I second guessed myself for a second and was alarmed that I had been saying something grammatically incorrect and that they weren't real words but I just typed in 'learnt' and 'smelt' into the dictionary and it says they are valid words in British English. Phew! After learnt and smelt in the dictionary it says (Brit English) in brackets. I wonder how it evolved like that though..... hmmmm
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: veryfluffy on June 22, 2012, 03:23:48 PM
You might as well ask why Americans, or whoever, don't use that form. Languages just evolve differently in different places, don't they?
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: RingTailedLemur on June 23, 2012, 06:19:03 AM
Yes it is very common, in both pronunciation and spelling.

I have seen it picked up on a lot - I was called "illiterate" by a US-based poster on another site  ::) (http://www.planetsmilies.com/smilies/mad/mad0004.gif)
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: Bright on June 23, 2012, 07:10:19 AM
It's  common in both spelling and pronunciation.

I've been googling lots of interesting links on the subject. The one that interested me most was one with graphs though.

http://thespellingblog.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/learned-or-learnt-spelled-or-spelt.html
 
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: sparksals on June 23, 2012, 08:37:39 AM
We use it in Canada too. 
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: veryfluffy on June 23, 2012, 09:31:11 AM
Less frequent one is mixt rather than mixed, which is a great word for Scrabble (TM).
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: Tilt Fairy on June 23, 2012, 09:47:56 AM
Less frequent one is mixt rather than mixed, which is a great word for Scrabble (TM).

Ahhh what a great word! Mixt needs a revival! I mean, if us Brits have have burnt and dreamt, why not be consistent and have mixt too? That's the thing with British English. The language and what words people use is very inconsistent - but all British people somehow instinctively use the same inconsistencies. It's just an instinctual habit that everyone would say spelt and learnt etc... I can't for the life of me remember what we were taught in school but that must have been it!

1. Some people will only say learned, burned, spelled etc..
2. Some people will only say leant, burnt, spelt etc... (I would say this is 90%+ of Brits)
3. Some people will say learnt for the past tense and learned for the verb. e.g. I learnt Spanish at school vs I have learned to speak Spanish. I wonder if this is the correct option by the correct book of grammar? The distinction is so subtle, I'm not sure I would ever recognise it! That is, if it's even correct. Who knows?

*Actually 'learnt' is a bit of an odd one. Most Brits will say learnt for anything but the word learnED to mean something different e.g he was a very learnED man. 
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: Thipu1 on June 23, 2012, 10:08:16 AM
The T form is used in US English too, but to a lesser extent.  It does show up frequently in crosswords.

I don't think anyone here would have problems understanding it in speech and I've never met anyone who would think it 'illiterate' in writing. 

I believe the division came with the first American dictionaries.  These often had a mission of simplifying spelling but it didn't always work.  For some reason, it was thought a good thing to substitute 'z' for 's' in verbs. The disuse of the T form was probably something similar. 

Some years ago I recall a post from a US student studying in the UK.  This person was using American spellings and the Professor, who was a bit of a pedant, insisted that, if American spellings were to be used, they had to be used exclusively.  According to him, the American spelling of 'through' should be 'thru'. 

The only place that spelling is used here is on street signs such as 'No Thru Traffic'.  No one with any degree of education would think of using it in ordinary writing. 
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: RingTailedLemur on June 23, 2012, 11:42:55 AM
Reminds me of a friend of mine.  The first question asked of him at his PhD viva (in Britain) was, "Why did you spell 'ionisation' with an 's'?"  ::)
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: Thipu1 on June 24, 2012, 10:08:09 AM
The only possible problem with the T forms could be 'spelt'.  That word is also a type of grain.

Also, a question with 'spelt'.  Here, we use 'spelled' to also indicate giving a person a break. 

'Joan didn't have to stay at the information desk all afternoon.  Joe came and spelled her at two PM'.

Do people in the UK use it in that sense?
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: P-p-p-penguin on June 24, 2012, 11:19:06 AM
I obviously can't speak for all Brits, but I've never heard it used in that way.
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: RingTailedLemur on June 24, 2012, 11:50:01 AM
Me neither.
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: Tilt Fairy on June 24, 2012, 01:29:10 PM
I'm with the above two. Never heard 'spelled' used as giving someone a break in the UK. Interesting...
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: RingTailedLemur on June 24, 2012, 01:37:41 PM
I don't think anyone here would have problems understanding it in speech and I've never met anyone who would think it 'illiterate' in writing. 

I just did a quick search on Yahoo Answers, there are a fair number of questions asking if "learnt" is a real word.  Several answerers have used descriptions such as "uneducated", "illiterate" and "redneck" to describe those who think it is - although thankfully such contributions have been given the thumbs down.
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: PastryGoddess on June 24, 2012, 06:02:17 PM
I know I don't have all of my facts straight.  But if I remember correctly, Noah Webster believed very strongly that American English should be different from British English in order to give legitimacy to the new nation. He pretty much believed that British English was too stuck in the past to change, so he decided that American English would be much more amenable to change. He took the "u" out of words like color and favor.  He switched the "re" to "er" in words like center. I'm guessing the "t" changed to "ll" this way as well.  His Dictionary and Blue Grammer book were used pretty much exclusively for about 100 years to teach people how to read.
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: Thipu1 on June 25, 2012, 08:39:30 AM
Yes, Pastrygoddess, that's how I understand things too. 

Another thing they did was drop the second 'L' in words like 'traveller'.

This is all fascinating stuff. 
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: shadowfox79 on June 25, 2012, 09:58:11 AM
On the other hand, I have heard "spelled" in the "relieved" context here in the UK, but mainly because I think people have heard it on American TV shows. So we may well be re-merging our language.
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: #borecore on June 25, 2012, 10:09:51 AM
The only possible problem with the T forms could be 'spelt'.  That word is also a type of grain.

Also, a question with 'spelt'.  Here, we use 'spelled' to also indicate giving a person a break. 

'Joan didn't have to stay at the information desk all afternoon.  Joe came and spelled her at two PM'.

Do people in the UK use it in that sense?

That is completely foreign to me, as an American.

I've heard "rest a spell" but NEVER "spelled" as in relieved.

My brain melts a little with the "t" endings for past tense or "s" where "z" should be in certain words (per my American sensibilities), but I get it. It's funny to me when one of these slips into an American's writing. We do use "slept" instead of "sleeped," but "dreamed" is more proper than "dreamt."
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: nutraxfornerves on June 25, 2012, 10:28:30 AM
The only possible problem with the T forms could be 'spelt'.  That word is also a type of grain.

Also, a question with 'spelt'.  Here, we use 'spelled' to also indicate giving a person a break. 

'Joan didn't have to stay at the information desk all afternoon.  Joe came and spelled her at two PM'.

Do people in the UK use it in that sense?

That is completely foreign to me, as an American.

I've heard "rest a spell" but NEVER "spelled" as in relieved.
I'll bet you have heard it--but with a slightly different connotation.
Merriam Webster defines it as
Quote
to take the place of for a time : relieve <we spell each other every two hours>
The idea is that you temporarily take over some job, in order to let someone else have a rest.
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: PastryGoddess on June 25, 2012, 10:57:50 AM
I think that "spelled" to mean relieving someone may be a more common usage in the south.  My family is all from NC and beyond and I grew up using that definition of "spelled"
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: veryfluffy on June 25, 2012, 11:09:37 AM

My brain melts a little with the "t" endings for past tense or "s" where "z" should be in certain words (per my American sensibilities), but I get it. It's funny to me when one of these slips into an American's writing. We do use "slept" instead of "sleeped," but "dreamed" is more proper than "dreamt."

 I've never heard anyone here (UK) say dreamed. It's always dreamt. Dreamed sounds really odd to me.
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: #borecore on June 25, 2012, 01:21:08 PM
The only possible problem with the T forms could be 'spelt'.  That word is also a type of grain.

Also, a question with 'spelt'.  Here, we use 'spelled' to also indicate giving a person a break. 

'Joan didn't have to stay at the information desk all afternoon.  Joe came and spelled her at two PM'.

Do people in the UK use it in that sense?

That is completely foreign to me, as an American.

I've heard "rest a spell" but NEVER "spelled" as in relieved.
I'll bet you have heard it--but with a slightly different connotation.
Merriam Webster defines it as
Quote
to take the place of for a time : relieve <we spell each other every two hours>
The idea is that you temporarily take over some job, in order to let someone else have a rest.

Nope, never heard it.
Regarding another poster's theory, I live in Texas and have been in all of our lovely Southern states at least a few times.

Perhaps it's generational?
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: mechtilde on June 25, 2012, 01:22:31 PM

My brain melts a little with the "t" endings for past tense or "s" where "z" should be in certain words (per my American sensibilities), but I get it. It's funny to me when one of these slips into an American's writing. We do use "slept" instead of "sleeped," but "dreamed" is more proper than "dreamt."

 I've never heard anyone here (UK) say dreamed. It's always dreamt. Dreamed sounds really odd to me.

I have heard both. I haven't noticed it being regional if that's any help.
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: Flora Louise on June 25, 2012, 02:36:55 PM

My brain melts a little with the "t" endings for past tense or "s" where "z" should be in certain words (per my American sensibilities), but I get it. It's funny to me when one of these slips into an American's writing. We do use "slept" instead of "sleeped," but "dreamed" is more proper than "dreamt."

 I've never heard anyone here (UK) say dreamed. It's always dreamt. Dreamed sounds really odd to me.

Have you heard it with music?

"I dreamed last night, I got on a boat to heaven . . ."
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: lowspark on June 25, 2012, 02:55:33 PM
I'm with JMarvelous on this. Live (and always have lived) in Texas and I've never heard "spell" used that way.

The t instead of ed is more common here in words that have a long e in them. As in sleep/slept and dream/dreamt which were mentioned above. I have heard (and probably used) both dreamed and dreamt but never sleeped.

More examples are creep/crept, feel/felt, deal/dealt, keep/kept, leave/left, weep/wept, sweep/swept.

Interesting!

Edited: that's swept, not sept.
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: Tilt Fairy on June 25, 2012, 04:06:38 PM
Yeah we use crept, felt, dealt, kept, left, wept, swept and never really the alternative. Is sleeped even a word? I mean, if you guys don't say slept, then do you actually say sleeped or is that one of the exceptions that you use slept for?! It just sounds so funny!
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: #borecore on June 25, 2012, 04:33:25 PM
Yeah we use crept, felt, dealt, kept, left, wept, swept and never really the alternative. Is sleeped even a word? I mean, if you guys don't say slept, then do you actually say sleeped or is that one of the exceptions that you use slept for?! It just sounds so funny!

In my post, I mentioned that we say "slept."
Also crept, felt, dealt, kept, left, wept, swept.

But there are certainly MORE words the folks across the ocean use with "t" endings than we do -- we typically say spelled and dreamed, for instance, as mentioned earlier.
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: jaxsue on June 27, 2012, 12:54:52 PM
We use it in Canada too.

True. Since my parents were both Canadian I was familiar with the "t" spellings. My American English teachers, OTOH, weren't thrilled with it.  :)
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: jaxsue on June 27, 2012, 12:56:39 PM

My brain melts a little with the "t" endings for past tense or "s" where "z" should be in certain words (per my American sensibilities), but I get it. It's funny to me when one of these slips into an American's writing. We do use "slept" instead of "sleeped," but "dreamed" is more proper than "dreamt."

 I've never heard anyone here (UK) say dreamed. It's always dreamt. Dreamed sounds really odd to me.

I say "dreamt," too. But, as I said in a PP, I grew up with English-Canadian parents so I was used to UK spellings.
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: Saffy on June 28, 2012, 09:24:02 AM
The ones I notice a lot are 'shone' vs. 'shined':

The light shone through the night.

The light shined through the night.


The latter seems really wrong to me.

Also, 'lit' vs. 'lighted'.

He lit the candle.

He lighted the candle.


Again - the latter sounds odd to me! (New Zealander).
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: Tilt Fairy on June 28, 2012, 10:44:45 AM
The ones I notice a lot are 'shone' vs. 'shined':

The light shone through the night.

The light shined through the night.


The latter seems really wrong to me.

Also, 'lit' vs. 'lighted'.

He lit the candle.

He lighted the candle.


Again - the latter sounds odd to me! (New Zealander).

You're right. The latter two of each sound really odd to me too
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: PastryGoddess on June 28, 2012, 01:24:23 PM
The ones I notice a lot are 'shone' vs. 'shined':

The light shone through the night.

The light shined through the night.


The latter seems really wrong to me.

Also, 'lit' vs. 'lighted'.

He lit the candle.

He lighted the candle.


Again - the latter sounds odd to me! (New Zealander).

I'm in the US and "shone" sounds weird to me, but I would use "lit" rather than "lighted"
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: jaxsue on June 30, 2012, 03:20:57 PM
The ones I notice a lot are 'shone' vs. 'shined':

The light shone through the night.

The light shined through the night.


The latter seems really wrong to me.

Also, 'lit' vs. 'lighted'.

He lit the candle.

He lighted the candle.


Again - the latter sounds odd to me! (New Zealander).

I'm in the US and "shone" sounds weird to me, but I would use "lit" rather than "lighted"

I'd use "shone," but my parents are English-Canadian so there is a lot of UK influence in our dialect. I'd also use "lit," though. "Lighted" sounds strange.
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: wendelenn on June 30, 2012, 05:11:19 PM

My brain melts a little with the "t" endings for past tense or "s" where "z" should be in certain words (per my American sensibilities), but I get it. It's funny to me when one of these slips into an American's writing. We do use "slept" instead of "sleeped," but "dreamed" is more proper than "dreamt."

 I've never heard anyone here (UK) say dreamed. It's always dreamt. Dreamed sounds really odd to me.

Have you heard it with music?

"I dreamed last night, I got on a boat to heaven . . ."

Susan Boyle didn't sing "I Dreamt a Dream"   ;D
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: PastryGoddess on June 30, 2012, 06:59:22 PM

My brain melts a little with the "t" endings for past tense or "s" where "z" should be in certain words (per my American sensibilities), but I get it. It's funny to me when one of these slips into an American's writing. We do use "slept" instead of "sleeped," but "dreamed" is more proper than "dreamt."

 I've never heard anyone here (UK) say dreamed. It's always dreamt. Dreamed sounds really odd to me.

Have you heard it with music?

"I dreamed last night, I got on a boat to heaven . . ."

Susan Boyle didn't sing "I Dreamt a Dream"   ;D

Maybe an American wrote it :)
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: Tilt Fairy on June 30, 2012, 07:01:12 PM
I dreamt a dream doesn't rhyme for the purposes of the song - even if dreamt makes more sense to me than dreamed!
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: nolechica on July 06, 2012, 01:51:05 AM
Yes, Pastrygoddess, that's how I understand things too. 

Another thing they did was drop the second 'L' in words like 'traveller'.

This is all fascinating stuff.

Also in cancelled and jewellery. 
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: RingTailedLemur on July 06, 2012, 02:30:00 AM
Yes, Pastrygoddess, that's how I understand things too. 

Another thing they did was drop the second 'L' in words like 'traveller'.

This is all fascinating stuff.

Also in cancelled and jewellery.

Counsellor, too.
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: Thipu1 on July 06, 2012, 08:48:10 AM
It's all very fungible. 

In the USA we say 'slept' even though we should probably say 'sleeped'.  The latter just sounds wrong.  'Leaped' and 'leapt' are used about equally even though the meanings are a bit different.  Around here, we will say, 'She leaped into the argument' but 'He leapt for joy'.  It's a subtle distinction. 
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: #borecore on July 06, 2012, 09:37:20 AM
It's all very fungible. 

In the USA we say 'slept' even though we should probably say 'sleeped'.  The latter just sounds wrong.  'Leaped' and 'leapt' are used about equally even though the meanings are a bit different.  Around here, we will say, 'She leaped into the argument' but 'He leapt for joy'.  It's a subtle distinction.

I don't think they have a different meaning at all -- I'd use "leaped" or "leapt" for both purposes in casual conversation.
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: PastryGoddess on July 06, 2012, 06:39:46 PM
It's all very fungible. 

In the USA we say 'slept' even though we should probably say 'sleeped'.  The latter just sounds wrong.  'Leaped' and 'leapt' are used about equally even though the meanings are a bit different.  Around here, we will say, 'She leaped into the argument' but 'He leapt for joy'.  It's a subtle distinction. 

Fungible!  I love that word and try to use it as often as possible :)

Back on topic then...
Title: Re: Why do British people use the T form of certain verbs?
Post by: Clarissa on July 09, 2012, 03:07:09 PM
This thread is so interesting! I'm British and have never used words like "learnt" or "dreamt" in written work. Maybe when talking. My partner will say things like "I learnt him" meaning he taught him. However he knows that it's not correct, and wouldn't write it. He's Scottish.