If you are reading this post because the title of the post shocked you due to its form (syntax/grammar) rather than its content (semantics/meaning) then you are likely to appreciate this post.
15 years ago, when I arrived in North Carolina, I had to relearn English. It took me about two years of tweaking the speech and listening comprehension areas in my brain to be able to reasonably communicate via the spoken word again. The written word was not such a challenge as I just had to learn some new spelling patterns (color vs. colour, etc.). I hardly remember anything that I had to adjust related to grammar.
A few years went by before I had to adjust again to “our prices can’t be beat” and “my car is broke“. It appeared that the words “beaten” and “broken” had fallen out of vogue by disuse. Some usage of “beat” and “broke” as past participle forms seems to be attributable to middle English for certain meanings, per Merriam-Webster. So I tucked couple of exceptions in the grammar rule memory section of my brain, and moved on without getting beat or broke by this acclimatization.
Last week, my neuron connections were jolted again. Within a week, I heard the following sentences from three persons in very different professions:
- “Have you ate?”
- “I had went …”
- “I would have wrote …”
There’s no way I was going to look for a justification for this usage! Instead, I was a bit concerned about what my third-grader might be learning. I am quite sure about how the standardized tests such as GRE and GMAT would reward this usage. I wasn’t even thinking of TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) because she doesn’t have to deal with that.
This morning, I stepped out with my daughter to walk her to the school-bus stop. As we passed our mailbox, she said, “Papa, our mailbox is broken.” I heaved a sigh of relief. Only the mailbox was broken; the language education in her classroom wasn’t.