Grammar, words and language are interesting study topics. Don’t think so? OK, fine. Grammar, words and language are interesting study topics to ME!
I know, it sounds dryer than the driest toast but just entertain the idea for a moment. For me. Please.
Words have meaning. (Duh!) But where did the meaning(s) originate? What about the many grammar rules we learned (and quickly forgot) in grade school? Many times grammatical origin is more interesting than the word(s) it refers to (to which it refers!). Don’t think so? Refer to paragraph one.
One word that annoys me is “gotten”. I do not like it, Sam I am. Nails on chalkboard type dislike in my world. But it is a word (except to them!) and has a useful purpose in written and spoken English.
So what’s my problem with gotten? Its sound. Words either help or hinder rhythm and flow in writing, song and speech. To me, gotten is usually a “rhythm hinderer” (correctly stated: a hindrance to rhythm). This is, of course, subjective reasoning, and so, subject to debate – among fellow word nerds. (As is constructing a sentence with multiple interrupters and commas.) Unless using it intentionally, for effect, I choose an alternative to gotten. Why? Because I’m just that way. Word nerd.
A word-related study I recently completed was on “eastnorth”, “westsouth”, etc., and why they are not acceptable descriptions of directional travel or reference. I blame a child for this one. Specifically, my nine-year-old daughter (a “word nerd-ling”) who was using these same descriptions (and a few nonsensical ones: “northsouth” and “westeast”) in her silly banter. I explained that “westeast” is possible in the same world where a “leftright” turn occurs and that “northwest” is OK, but “westnorth” is not. Then I silently (until now) questioned why it is that we don’t say “westnorth”. Is it because it sounds ridiculous or does it sound ridiculous because we never say it? Chicken? Egg? I dunno! Or at least I didn’t know at the moment. Thanks be to Google and this.
But I still don’t like gotten.
Photo credit: the_munificent_sasquatch