1. TheComet
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    TheComet Member

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    The word "gotten"

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by TheComet, Jan 25, 2012.

    This has been annoying me for quite a while.

    I know, I knew, I have known
    I eat, I ate, I have eaten
    I get, I got, I have gotten?!

    Open any dictionary with British English and you will not succeed in finding that word. Open any dictionary with American English, and it tells you it's the past participle of get. Type it into google and it returns a series of mixed messages. I strictly follow British English grammar, so I can't use that word.

    My question is : What do I use instead? Are there sentences where it's not avoidable?

    TheComet
     
  2. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Hi TheComet

    what sentence are you looking to write?
     
  3. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    I hate it when British people use 'gotten'. It's not a word!

    Anyway, you just use 'got'. For example, 'I have got food', 'I have got used to the idea of blah blah' etc.
     
  4. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    'Gotten' is not accepted in correct British English--but you don't hear it in England (or at least, the south and south east) anyway. It is just not in normal British English. If it's acceptable in the US, that's fine for them--although university teachers I work with tell me it's informal use, and prefer students to stick to 'got' in academic writing.
    I really, really hate reading novels written by Americans which are full of British people using words like 'gotten' or 'dove'.
     
  5. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    this actually makes me think of the verb/word
    'begotten' from 'beget'.
    This is a British English verb/word.
     
  6. TheComet
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    TheComet Member

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    I don't really have a specific sentence, I thought I'd start this topic just to make everyone aware of it :rolleyes: Here's one I remember to be a pain:

    The problem is that you really can only get out of the car. Changing the verb to something else slightly alters the meaning.

    You should have left the car when I told you to?
    You should have proceeded to remove your bottom off the seat of the car when I told you to?
    You should have jumped out of the car when I told you to?

    You see, it changes the meaning slightly because you're adding an action to it. The closest is have left, but it still doesn't quite mean the same thing.

    Strange thing is, you can say:

    I forget, I frogot, I have forgotten

    TheComet
     
  7. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    The word 'get' is nothing to to with 'forget' or any other word that chances to end in '-get'. So I really don't get the point in going into these irrelevancies. There is no point in trying to analyse the concept of 'get' either. It is conjugated: get-got-got in modern (British) English, and no other way. Other words may use older forms or have morphed into another form, 'get' has not.
     
  8. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    the same with
    beget and begotten.

    you could use
    you should have got out of the car when I told you to?
    but then I see what you mean..an American reader will have problems with it.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In UK English, the past participle of get is got. So your example in UK English would be:
    So, for example, a correct UK English sentence would be:
    For which the US English equivalent would be:
    There are several good UK dictionaries. You should invest in one (or more) if you are writing for a UK market.
     
  10. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I beta for a couple Brits and it took some time to get them to use "gotten" for their American stories. I know I would have the devil of a time if I used British characters - so many little differences that can blast out at the reader...
     
  11. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I learned something new today. I prefer gotten, though. I have got sounds like some hillbilly.
     
  12. Anniexo
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    Anniexo Member

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    I've read some of you have said 'gotten' isn't a British word, but would you accept it, if it was what a character was saying?

    E.G; "I've gotten a lot of money" He said
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You can get away with a lot in character dialogue, because people don't always speak with perfect grammar. Just try to be consistent, at least in degree of grammatical slippage, within a character's dialogue.
     
  14. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, of course not--unless the character was American.
    @architectus: I would say the same of 'gotten'. It sounds illiterate.
     
  15. Anniexo
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    So you would go to every Non-American and tell them to stop saying that? Because I know a lot of people who say 'Gotten'
     
  16. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you are talking about ESL students, it won't get them far in many international english language grammar tests--I should know, I am an examiner. Often 'gotten' is not even given as an option if they are doing multiple choice. I never said they can't say it if that's what someone has taught them. 'Gotten' is acceptable in informal speaking, if they want to adopt American idiom, but frowned on in academic writing in e.g. IELTS. Like I said, even American professors I work with dislike it in formal English--so I really don't advise that non-Americans use it--why would they want to, anyway?
     
  17. Anniexo
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    It's all about common talk and how different areas have it's own way of talking.
     
  18. SeverinR
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    You would not have gotten wet today, if you had swum the river, yesterday.

    Yes, I still bring that up.
     
  19. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would say more it is that students of English copy what they hear in movies and songs, without realising that they are imitating informal use, which will handicap them if they try and publish theses, etc. It will also sound funny if they speak idiomatic English with a thick accent from their own language, or if their grammar is otherwise poor.
    I only made the comment to architectus about 'gotten' sounding illiterate because it really pi**ed me off that he thinks his stupid hillbilly comment is reasonable.
     
  20. shadowwalker
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    Maybe we can just accept that useage differs depending on place, instead of getting all het up about it. In the US, from grade school on up, I was taught "have gotten". I don't know what professors like or dislike; this is how we were taught. In the UK, it's different. I imagine in many other countries it also varies. So write based on where your story takes place and/or where your character is from.
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Know the subtle aspects of the language dialect in the market you are writing for. That is easiest if you are writing for the market in which you are a native speaker. Next best is if you write for the market region your English studies were centered in. But stick to the one dialect for all narrative.

    For dialogue, you can use the dialect of the character's accustomed environment. Whether you carry that over to spelling, such as colour vs color, is debatable. Personally, I would prefer to keep the spelling of the target market, not the character, because you cannot hear spelling differences. The spelling variations can become an unnecessary distraction. But whichever you choose, be consistent.

    Handling a dialect you do not know intimately is difficult, and risky. Readers who do know the dialect will spot every inconsistency.
     
  22. euqroT
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    euqroT New Member

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    Gotten

    My Grandmother came over from England to Australia to live her life out here. Her English and sentence structure was always so nice to listen too. She never used 'got' if i can recall, although my Dad would, and he came out with Nan when he was ten. Whenever I heard this word it always sounded wrong whichever way it was used.

    Gotten though, sounds o.k ?, I know my own grammer is terrible though.
     
  23. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    That sounds very strange to this Brit. I can't offhand think of any time we would use "I have got" for anything other than present tense possession ("I have got three pairs of shoes"; "I have got a cold"), in which case the "got" is unnecessary but common. For receiving something in the past it seems natural to use just "got": "I got word from the Minister today".

    It might be worth mentioning that "gotten" has survived in British English in some idioms such as "ill-gotten".

    Is "gotten" universal in US English? I had the idea it was regional, but I don't know where I got that idea.
     
  24. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd accept it without question if there was a good reason for the character to be speaking American English.
     
  25. digitig
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    Actually, it has. Both are traceable to the Old German word "Geitan" meaning to hold or grasp (to forget is figuratively to lose one's grasp of something). "Gotten" and "forgotten" used both to be normal English on both sides of the pond. It seems to have died out in Britain at about the same time as it was growing in use in the USA, although it has only really taken off in the USA since around the 1960s: http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=gotten&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=5&smoothing=3, http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=gotten&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=6&smoothing=3 (look around the 0.0004% mark on both graphs).
     

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