Irregular verbs: regularization and ongoing variability

Pam Peters*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Both language history and mathematical modeling suggest that the English irregular verbs will generally evolve to become more regular. Yet closer investigation of individual verbs and verb groups shows that evolutionary expectations can be overstated. Data from the ICE-corpora for Australian, New Zealand and British English show differing endorsements of nonstandard forms, whether these are long-established variants as for ring/shrink/spring, or latter-day revivals such as -t for burn, learn, spell. The data put Australian and New Zealand English closer to each other than either is to British. Australian population surveys show that younger citizens are more inclined to use nonstandard/nonstandardized forms. Sociolinguistic and regional preferences may thus run counter to the broad evolutionary trend for English verbs, at least in the short term.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComparative studies in Australian and New Zealand English
Subtitle of host publicationgrammar and beyond
EditorsPam Peters, Peter Collins, Adam Smith
Place of PublicationAmsterdam; Philadelphia
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9789027289407
ISBN (Print)9789027248992
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Publication series

NameVarieties of English Around the World
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
ISSN (Print)0172-7362


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