Thursday, June 10, 2010

One of the reasons I like my native language so much

Here is a brief exchange about what form a certain English word should take. These are serious considerations, and they can be found in the comments section of this Language Log post.

  1. wally said,

    June 10, 2010 @ 11:31 am

    Since this is Language Log, I thought we might explore the correct form of the verb in this phrase from the Onion article.

    "until the oil company had bullshit its way"

    Bullshit doesn't sound quite right to me. Bullshitted? Bullshat? I don't know.

  2. Mr Fnortner said,

    June 10, 2010 @ 11:41 am

    The verb should take its cue from the base "shit" which has shit or shat as its past participle, I would imagine. I believe the form printed is correct.

  3. Dan T. said,

    June 10, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

    But "bullshitted" is, as Steven Pinker would say, a "headless" verb, being derived from the noun "bullshit" rather than the verb "to shit". Hence, it should get a regular preterite suffix.

A regular preterite suffix, indeed. English is so fun sometimes, even when you are serious.

No comments: