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Past tenses ending in t (spelled/spelt)
Posted: 01 February 2012 04:33 AM   [ Ignore ]
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OK so I’ve been away for ages, however, in the middle of typesetting an advert for a chimney sweep, I suddenly remembered an old discussion on here about the past tense of spell (and some other words that follow the same pattern). Our US board members use ‘spelled’ and found ‘spelt’ (an acceptable UK version) decidedly odd. And so, in the middle of typesetting the advert I found myself wondering if in the US, the past tense of sweep is ‘swept’ or ‘sweeped’ (or ‘swope’)? Right then, back to work . . . (and glad to see some of my old friends are still here)

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Posted: 01 February 2012 04:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Swept is the usual form in Leftpondia.

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Posted: 01 February 2012 05:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Might as well go through the irregular verbs with -t as the past form (not counting those ending in -ght, or those in which the infinitive ends in -t, of course):

I would suppose these are universal, and no alternatives are in use:
Built
Dealt
Dwelt
Felt
Kept
Left
Meant
Sent
Slept
Spent
Went
Wept

These would be only used in some regions, or would depend on context: 
Burnt
Crept
Dreamt
Knelt
Leant
Leapt
Learnt
Lent
Smelt
Spelt
Spilt
Spoilt
Swept

Does that seem correct to you?

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Posted: 01 February 2012 06:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Nope. From the first category, dwelled is twice as common in American English than dwelt (Garner). I’ve also seen builded, but I’m not sure how common it is.

Garner helpfully lists the 200 or so irregular verbs that have currency today, but unhelpfully he does not indicate which ones have regular alternative forms in common use.

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Posted: 01 February 2012 06:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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OP Tipping - 01 February 2012 05:36 AM

Might as well go through the irregular verbs with -t as the past form (not counting those ending in -ght, or those in which the infinitive ends in -t, of course):

I would suppose these are universal, and no alternatives are in use:
Built

“And was Jerusalem builded here / Among those dark satanic mills” (William Blake - presumably a poetic tweak for the sake of the meter...)

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Posted: 01 February 2012 07:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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IIRC (no time to check) “builded” is used in the King James Bible.  It might be more of an archaism (or possibly still normal in Blake’s time) than a poetic tweak.

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Posted: 01 February 2012 07:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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’Went’ doesn’t really count does it as it’s an irregular verb anyway?

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Posted: 01 February 2012 08:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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’Went’ doesn’t really count does it as it’s an irregular verb anyway?

---
Wait, what? These are all irregular verbs.

Dave, now that you mention it, I suppose I have heard “dwelled”.
Never heard “builded” in modern speech, though. Doesn’t sit well in my ears.

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Posted: 01 February 2012 09:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Well whoever smelt it, dealt it as they say in schoolyards all across America.

Only Learnt, Spelt, and Spoilt in OP’s list above look odd to this American.

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Posted: 01 February 2012 02:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Outside the context of the idiomatic expression, he who smelt it, dealt it, most leftpondians, I think, would say smelled.  Assuming the phrase is American in origin (I would guess it is but don’t know) I would not be surprised if the unusual smelt form (unusual to leftpondians, anyway) was used simply because it rhymes with dealt.  (but I don’t KNOW if that is why smelt instead of smelled was used).

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Posted: 01 February 2012 03:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I was going to say what Svinyard said but he beat me to it.  “Smelt” is not normal US usage except in that one expression.

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Posted: 01 February 2012 03:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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One that is sometimes heard from Britons or Australians is “earnt”, but I think that this would mainly be regarded as an error rather than a variant.

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Posted: 01 February 2012 03:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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OP Tipping - 01 February 2012 08:37 AM

’Went’ doesn’t really count does it as it’s an irregular verb anyway?

---
Wait, what? These are all irregular verbs.

There’s irregular verbs and there’s strong verbs.  Any verb that doesn’t form the past tense by adding (e)d to the infinitive counts as an irregular verb.  Those that form the past tense with a final -t are irregular but still weak.  The strong verbs form the past and past perfect through an ablaut shift of the root vowel.  The vowel shift in weak verbs such as bring and teach is due to other factors.  In the case of went, not only is go a strong verb but the past tense form comes from a completely different verb.

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Posted: 01 February 2012 04:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Our US board members use ‘spelled’ and found ‘spelt’ (an acceptable UK version) decidedly odd.

It’s certainly not normal US usage, but a well-read American will recognize it as the common UK spelling.  The only person who I recall making an issue of this was wordgeek, who may have been Zeta Reticulan rather than American.

Having had a chance to check on builded in the King James Bible, I find that it and built were both used, apparently indiscriminately. 

Genesis 8:20
And Noah BUILDED an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

Genesis 22:9
And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham BUILT an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

I suppose this sort of inconsistency is inevitable in documents written by committees.

BTW, I would add bent to OPT’s list of universals; at least I don’t recall bended as standard anywhere.

[ Edited: 01 February 2012 04:06 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 01 February 2012 07:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Thanks, DR T, bent must have slipt through my sieve.
I have heard the phrase “on bended knee”, but that’s not really a verb in that context.

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Posted: 01 February 2012 07:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Interesting (or perhaps not) that most of these have the /e/ sound, and most of the rest have the /i/ sound.

There aren’t cases, for instance, of -old, -ond, -ald, -and, -uld, or -und getting the -t treatment.

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