Letter in the March 2011 Instinct magazine expressing inflection rage:
As a retired professor of English, I must call attention to the grammatical error in the latest issue: The past tense of the verb sink is sank, not sunk (that’s the past participle, as in, “The Nazis had sunk many war vessels” [“Editor’s Letter,” Dec. 2010/Jan. 2011]. In the future, I would be happy to copy-edit any editorials, since whoever does your copy editing has obviously fallen down on the job. A concerned but very avid reader…
Ben A. in Los Angeles, CA
A snappy, jokey reply from the editors accepts the criticism, but attributes the error to the editor Mike Wood, rather than the proofreaders:
Mike’s just rambling on and on in those “Editor’s Letters” moments before we have to pry the copy from his clammy hands to deliver the magazine to the presses!
All the parties in this exchange seem to believe that there is One Right Way to form the past tense of a verb, and for SINK this way is sank.
Both beliefs are flawed, the second dramatically so, though I have a speculation about the source of the professor’s rage.