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Pedants' Corner

I think ‘gotten’ originated in England.

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It was Bush.

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I thought I understood the difference in American English, but it is more complex than I thought:

Just using “got” makes life so much easier if nothing else

I have a Harry Potter book bought in the US and read on an interminable North Western flight back from there. ‘Gotten’ featured a lot - I think it was ‘translated’ into US English.

Thank you @SteveSlatcher. This was the distinction I remember being made. That ‘gotten’ isn’t just the past participle of ‘get’, it also carry’s the meaning of getting something, to quote from the article you link to:

“As the Oxford English Dictionary notes,

  • Gotten usually implies the process of obtaining something.
  • Got implies the state of possession or ownership.”

It seems to imply that the Americanism, rather than being a simplistic, archaic word actually allows a deeper, more subtle meaning to be conveyed. God bless America.

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Apart from “ill-gotten gains” which is not a phrase I often use, I don’t think I ever use “gotten”. I can appreciate the distinction but I just find it sounds very ugly.

I was just talking to Emma about this and just as I was getting into my swing she said “Oh, you mean ‘gotten’, I thought you said ‘got ‘un’”. What I say to the dog in a Somerset accent when he’s looking for his tennis ball, as in;

“‘Ave you got ‘un Bert?”


The awkwardness of “'Ave you gotten 'un” probably explains why we Brits don’t use “gotten” anymore :slight_smile:

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Still upset by the excessive use of “multiple”. Not necessarily wrong use, but just too much use. Yesterday I read about a house with multiple car parking and thought does that mean with 1 area to park several cars, or several places to park 1 car?

Sports commentators are sometimes irritating too, and “taking the knee” is really getting on my nerves. Can’t footballers just kneel?
Then there’s “the young player, just turned 21”. Did you understand? Did you think he was 21 weeks, 21 months, 21 Neptunian orbits? But no, just to be sure, it’s “just turned 21 years of age”. Oh, that’s what you meant. Thanks for clarifying.

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My current pet peeves:

Phrases like “The largest number of votes” or “largest amount of money”, rather than “most”

Overuse of “excited to do”, rather than “pleased”, “privileged” or whatever. It started out as PR thing, but has now spread

Similar overuse of “inspired”, rather than “motivated”, “encouraged”, “taught” etc

“deceptively large” now being merely “deceptive”

“ridiculous” and “insane” as similar abbreviations

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Similarly, ‘passionate’, as in ‘My name is Inbar, and I am passionate about… x, y and z!’

I also really detest the overuse of the word ‘hero’ in this day and age. It always brings to mind the exchange between Andrea and Galileo, in Brecht’s Life of Galileo:

Andrea: ’ Unhappy the land that has no heroes!’
Galileo: ‘No. Unhappy is the land where heroes are needed’.


The worst one of these for me is “Reaching out to…” I’m afraid that just puts my hackles up straight away!


There is hope that a lot of this nonsense will die out. In my youth, anyone who was interviewed on the tele had to say “at this moment of time” rather than “now”.


Welcome to the world of mental health speak! I work in it, and still have the same reaction to this phrase as you.


Yes but it’s not just mental health; I can’t count the number of times I’ve been cold called with the intro being along the lines of “I just wanted to reach out to you and see how we can help you do XXX” Drives me up the wall! :rage: :laughing:

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Mental speak more like…it recalls the pisstake a few years ago called Bullshit Bingo, where you could ‘score’ whatever excruciating word, phrase etc was used and if you got 4 or 5 of them shout 'Bullshit

God there were one or two meetings, usually involving a project and project manager where that was sorely tempting!


Especially ‘passionate’: I used to try to weed out any job applicant who claimed to be ‘passionate’ about the job or (worse) the subject of the job, but I think it is now in all the handbooks for job applicants.


So you were ‘passionate’ about weeding :wink:?


Oh, yes! That is irritating, not to say patronising! I think this term definitely originated in the mental health field, but had spilled into everyday usage now.

When I’m told at work to try and ‘reach out’ to a student, it usually denotes ‘try and contact them one more time… We know the last 756 times yielded no interest in your support, but we must try and reach out…’. :roll_eyes: