The curious morphology of Canada

Ann Burlingham writes from Canada to report two non-standard verb forms she found there:



And she asked: are Canadians regularizing verbs faster than USAns?

Well no, but she’s noticing the verb forms more when she’s away from home (western New York state): a version of the Local Color Illusion.

In this illusion, usages that you encounter away from home or in reading about places away from home are seen as characteristic of those other places, as “local color”. Quite commonly, they turn out to be widespread. As here, where I can find no evidence that the forms are in any way characteristic of Canada; that’s just where Ann came across them.

Now on the specific cases, which are of two different types.

PST casted. English has a number of senses for a verb or verbs CAST, originally referring to caused motion (cast them into outer darkness, etc.) Among these is the theatrical verb CAST, in #1. From OED2:

Theatr. To allot (the parts of a play) to the actors; to appoint (actors) for the parts. [first cites from Addison 1711 and Fielding 1737]

This sense apparently began as a metaphorical extension of caused-motion CAST, with the parts seen as distributed to actors. But there’s always a push towards viewing the verb as related directly to the noun CAST, as ‘put in a (theatrical) cast’. In addition, there are composite verbs BROADCAST and FORECAST, originally with caused-motion CAST, but are now easily viewed as related directly to the nouns BROADCAST and FORECAST. These facts are relevant because a V derived from a N is ordinarily regularly inflected: PST/PSP broadcasted, forecasted, (theatrically) casted (NOAD2 gives forecasted as an alternative to forecast, but lists only broadcast and cast).

In any case, caused-motion CAST is standardly a “bare past” verb (with PST = BSE/PRS), like CUT, HIT, and a number of others, but threatrical CAST is a good candidate for regularization (in competition with the standard bare past). And indeed there are large numbers of hits for theatrical casted in “casted him in” (God bless Channing Tatum and whoever casted him in Magic Mike. Threw me for a loop when they casted him in The Lorax. etc), from all parts of North America, with no detectable concentration in Canada.

PSP grounded. This one is a bit more complex.

GRIND is standardly an ablaut verb, with vowel change in the PST and PSP and no suffix in the PST: GRIND has BSE/PRS grind, PST/PSP ground. Simple regularization would give PST/PSP grinded (and this does occur). But instead we get a “double PST/PSP”, with both ablaut and the PST suffix; the usual story on such forms is that some speakers view the simple ablaut as insufficiently marked, so they add the suffix for reinforcement.

Back in 2008, I collected a huge number of hits for doubly-marked PSP blowned (standard blown plus the suffix), for instance,

I was blowned away by their staff. They offered everything including hair cuts, message, waxing, pedicures at a really cheap price that everyone could … (link from San Francisco)

These appeared to be pretty evenly distributed across North America (taking into account the much greater size of the U.S.).

Then for GRIND, I find a fair number of hits for “have grounded up” in the relevant sense (I have grounded up more than one kilo of shrimp shells and heads into a stinky mushCoffee, as we know it today, is a brewed beverage but ancient Africans were known to have grounded up the beans …) Again, no noticeable Canadian bias.

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