Dear Mr. Micawber, This is a question about the word "learnt" which you have used, and only seems to be used in Britain. I live in the US and the word used over here is "learned," Is "learnt" a corruption? The spoken word which has somehow (and perhaps lazily) become accepted in written form?
Hi Tallulah, welcome to the Forums,

I'll try to answer your question according to my own opinion, I'm sure MM will give you a better answer later.

Learnt belongs to irregular verbs in British English, though I'd like to add that they were not considered irregular maybe 4 hundred years ago. Just the rule that existed at that time that let the language to have "learnt, spent, swept, meant, ..." is lost now, no longer exist. And this made them irregular. Languages usually tend to get rid of the irregulalarities at some point of time (however, at that time there always be new irregularities to be born), that's why we have the alternative "learned" in American English. I don't know about the acceptance of "learnt" in US written English, probabably it's not. But phonetically, it's easier for a "d" sound to be replced by "t" than the opposite way. So I guess you can hear "learnt" in American spoken English as well. Who knows, maybe because of the same simplicity rule, that languages tend to develop towards simpleness (that is not always true), we''l have all "d"s to be changed to "t"s in next 3 centuries! It is possible!
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Thank you for your prompt and interesting reply Language Lover. I hasten to add here before there is any misunderstanding, that I am English born and bred. I have lived in the States for almost 20yrs. so now I feel as though I belong nowhere in particular! (Peculiar feeling) My questions will probably be related to the differences in our languages. The Americans here will correct me I am sure when I make sweeping statements. I have found that they do say, (and write) spent, wept, kept, etc., In the South they shorten "kept" even further to "kep," but they use "learned" instead of "learnt" and "burned" instead of "burnt" there may well be others, I just can't (they usually say cannot) readily think of just now..

Personally I rather favour their version. Even though it sounds rather startling for an American to use better English than the English. I also prefer their use of the singular collective noun. It is far more common to hear in England "the company are" or "the audience are". The Americans also regularly use the word refrigerator, for fridge, and veterinary, for vet, which I found very amusing at first; but I deplore their use of pled, for pleaded, and dove for dived, and deplane, for disembark, and dismissed, for discharged, (as in hospital) "Gotten" is another word with which I have never come to terms.

Your point of changing the d to t is especially interesting. I noticed in the North of England people from Bradford, pronounce the word BraTford. But back to my point about laziness, even though it sounds pedantic to speak English properly, it teaches correct usage in an increasingly cosmopolitan world. In France I am very embarrassed when I make a grammatical error, but even French natives make errors all the time as we do. How is it that we try harder when speaking or writing a foreign language than we do with our own?

I apologize for repeating subjects already discussed, when I put "learnt" in the search engine it brought up a page of posts about it. Please bear with me....I'm new, and I just like to hear myself talk, (I guess)
I just like to hear myself talk, (I guess). So, do you have a British accent with a hint of Southern? Sorry I assumed you were American from your first post. I think you will bring an intersting perspective to these discussions.
Hi Tallulah,

I don't know what to say, your knowlege is far beyond my reach ...

I guess you're questioning why a single language goes through seperate paths of developing? And which version is more acceptable, the one that sticks to a known rule, or the one that causes a mess in the system of a language? Is this what you're trying to say?

And yup, you're quite right about foreigners being better grammarians than the native speakers. If you look throughout the history, you'll find out that most of the grammars, phonetic studies, and any other language related researchers were done by non-speakers of the language who paid attention to the details of the language they wanted the learn. And obviously, native speakers have not tried that hard to formulate the things they already knew and took them for granted.

And correct again, every native speaker does make mistake, just the rate of the mistakes could vary from one person to another.

Hope that you are not disappointed by my answer.

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Khoff, I have a southern English accent, not a Deep South accent, not even a hint, since I am married to an Englishman. Neither of us has, (taken a chance on that one, has or have?) an American accent, although we have both learned (learnt) to say, "Y'all come back'n see us now" and "chickin n dumplins" with a passable Southern drawl.

Where are you from? (A question I have been asked a million times). -

"Where y'all from then?" Guess. "Ireland." No thank you. "Australia!" No. "Errrrrrr" I am from England. "Oh, my great gramma came from Manchester her name's Higginbottom, do you know them?" Sorry, I am afraid not. "Do you know the Queen?"

Please could you tell me how you and Language Lover found this thread? I have been unable to find it again except through the emails you send me or the search engine. It is not listed in the new threads!
I'm from Denver, Colorado. I lived in Boston for about 20 years (without acquiring any Boston accent) and then moved back to Denver. I don't think I have any particular regional accent - I do have a tendency to put hard g's (sometimes almost k's) at the end of "-ing" words, but that's not a Denver thing, it's just a relic of my Eastern European ancestors.

As far as seeing earlier posts - when you click on a forum, such and "Vocabulary and Idioms," there are Forum Options at the bottom of the page. I have mine set to "show all"; maybe yours is set to just show new ones. Also, if you want a list of threads you have participated in, click on "my forums" on the Home Page. The whole site has recently been redesigned, so we're all still trying to figure things out.
Hello Tallulah Tam,

welcome to the englishforums. I'm not sure if this is what you were asking about: to find any of the threads you participated in, you need to click "My forums" phrase.

Oh, I forgot:

Which one do you feel is better:

a) I burnt my finger on the stove.

b) I burned my finger on the stove.

It feel that a) is momentary and b) almost hurts. (it might be personal, though)

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Hello Tallulah

I'd be disinclined to think of the T forms as corrupt. There are many examples in Spenser, Marlowe, and Milton, which suggests that both the pronunciation and spelling are well established in British English.

In fact, the older writers seem to have been much more profligate with their Ts: opening Marlowe at random, I find <banisht>; likewise, <seduc't> in Milton – and whereas a distinction can be made between <learnt> and <learned>, it's difficult to imagine <seduced> without a T sound.

Very nice screen name, by the way.

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