I have just finished reading “Dragon’s Kin” and would like to take the opportunity of congratulating you and your mother on an enthralling novel with a good twist at the end.
But please could you please refrain from using the American use of “GOTTEN” when writting for the Pern series, as I feel it detracts from the reading of the story. For Anne McC. never used it in any of her stories.
Good first time colaberation.
I’m glad to hear that you liked Dragon’s Kin.
Your comment regarding “gotten” sent me off to first my dictionary and then my book on etymology. I do tend to think with “gotten” and “forgotten” and I do believe that you’re right and Mum uses “got” and “forgot”. I was quite interested to see if the reason was something recently acquired in the Colonies or not.
The answer is surprising. According to “The Barnchart Concise Dictionary of Etymology” the verb “get” probably came into English around 1200 from geten, borrowed from a Scandinavian source (those Vikings sure got around!). However, there was an Old English -gietan equivalent form which is found in such words as forgietan, forget.
Now that sent me to looking up forget and, of course, I found that it has its origins in the Old English forgietan but in more recent times we’ve pretended that it has the Middle English geten instead of Old English -gietan origin.
So, to be true to the origin words, the past tense of “get” should always be “got” but the past tense of “forget” should always be “forgotten” because, while forget sounds like it should be a compound of “for” and “get”, it really isn’t (and we’ve forgotten that).
Of course, thank goodness, English is an evolving language and this issue with get/got/gotten and forget/forgot/forgotten is actually a case of evolution in action. We English-speaking peoples are trying out both variations to see which we’ll incorporate into the language and so, right now, there are actually two correct spellings of the past tense of both get and forget — and both of those spellings are wrong.
I could go further and argue that as most of Mum’s books are placed in the Ninth Pass and I’m writing Dragon’s Kin in the Second Interval — nearly two thousand years earlier — that perhaps what we’re seeing with the different spellings on Pern is the extinction of the past participles “gotten” and “forgotten”. And then I’d sound rather like a genius for having thought of such a subtle thing to put into a book, wouldn’t I?
Sadly, it wasn’t so. Why Mum never caught it is even more interesting — has she been hearing “gotten” and “forgotten” so often in her speech that she’s now decided to accept those past participles? Or did she just perhaps leave it for our editor to catch? I don’t know.
I did, immediately, go to Dragonsblood and changed all “gotten”‘s to “got”‘s. But now that I’ve looked at the “forgotten”‘s, I think I’ll leave them as they are. In particular, I’ve a line in the book,
“What’s going on?” she demanded suspiciously, her peace mission forgotten.
And it just seems to sound better than,
“What’s going on?” she demanded suspiciously, her peace mission forgot.
which would clearly have to be re-written as:
“What’s going on?” she demanded suspiciously, forgetting her peace mission.
to avoid sounding awkward to the ears (and mind).
Now it may be that this difference in using “gotten” and “got” and “forgot” and “forgotten” has a lot to do with accents — in fact I’m sure it does. I can’t remember if, when I’m in Ireland long enough to get a proper accent back, I say “got” or “gotten”. The Irish tend to speak very musically and sentences construct themselves to a well-established rythm which encourages the liberal use of adjectives. In America, there’s more of a tendency towards direct speech and adjectives are nearly scorned — but that’s a very regional thing. In New York City, everyone speaks very straight the point. In Los Angeles, where the heat is oppressive, everything tends to slow down, you know, like fer sure, dude — and I think that will have a (sadly, universal) affect on how English in spoken in the (near) future.
Anyway, Malcolm, thanks very much for bringing this point up. It was uninentional in Dragon’s Kin. I’ve changed all the “gotten”‘s in the current draft of Dragonsblood to “got” and will try to remember in the future. I’m not so sure about “forgotten” being changed to “forgot”. But I will bear it in mind!