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”...the dive/dove bit, impelled by the invention of the automobile and drive/drove--this just reeks of being a Just So story. Also, how did people get around in wagons and buggies, if not by driving them?”
Etymology: A Common Germanic verb, of first ablaut series: Old English dríf-an, dráf, plural drifon, drifen, (corresponding to Old Saxon drîƀan, Old Frisian drîva, Dutch drijven), Old High German trîban (German treiben), Old Norse drîfa (Swedish drifva, Danish drive), Gothic dreiban; draib, dribum; dribans. Not represented outside Germanic.
The Old English inflection is regularly represented by the current forms. In the past tense, however, the northern drave long held the field (as in the Bible versions) against the southern drove; the ablaut plural drĭven became obsolete in 15th cent. A new past participle droven, drove, after the past tense, was also long used by some instead of driven.
Forms: α. OE dúfan, ME duven; β. OE dýfan, ME duve(n /y/, ME diven, ME–15 (18dial.) deve, ... (Show More)
Frequency (in current use): http://www.oed.com/frequencybandinformation/5
Etymology: Old English had two verbs: (1) the primary strong verb dúfan , past tense déaf , plural dufon , past participle dofen , intransitive to duck, dive, sink; (2) the derivative causal weak verb dýfan , dýfde , gedýfd to dip, submerge. Already in 12th cent. these had begun to be confounded, the primary dūven (past tense deæf , dêf , past participle doven ) being used also transitive, and the causative dȳven intransitive, so that the two became synonyms, and before 1300 the strong verb became obsolete, dȳven (s.w. düven , s.e. dēven , midl. and north dīven ) remaining, chiefly in the intransitive sense of the Old English strong verb Of the compound bedive , the past participle BEDOVE adj. came down to 16th cent. in Scots Only traces of this verb are found in the cognate languages: Old Norse had dýfa to dip (also in same sense deyfa); Middle Dutch had bedûven, past participle bedoven, modern Dutch beduiven = Old English bedúfan. These belong to an Old Germanic ablaut series deuƀ-, dauƀ-, duƀ-, secondary form of deup-, daup-, dup-, to dip, submerge < pre-Germanic stems (weak-grade) dhup-, dhub-, respectively.
The s.e. deven gave the later deeve, deave, dieve; the modern dialect past tense dove is apparently a new formation after drive, drove, or weave, wove.
(Bold emphasis mine)