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sped vs. speeded

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sped vs. speeded

Postby Brazilian dude » Fri Sep 16, 2005 2:47 pm

At some point, of the English books I work with says something to this effect:

The work was sped up then.

I would have expected speeded up there and so consulted dictionaries and grammar books to confirm it. Three dictionaries out of four give sped or speeded as the past and past participle, one says speeded is used in the phrasal verb speed up, and all reference materials I was able to gather simply said they are synonymous. What's your take?

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Postby M. Henri Day » Fri Sep 16, 2005 3:46 pm

My take is that in this speedy day and age, the strong verb has sped right off the screen....

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Postby Brazilian dude » Sat Sep 17, 2005 5:55 pm

This is what Fowler says about speed:

speed. Past and p.p. sped; but speed up = increase the speed of, makes speeded (must be speeded up etc.), and that is also the natural past of speed in the sense of drive (a car) at an excessive speed.

So, in my example, according to Fowler, it should have read the work was speeded up then, as I am wont to say.

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Postby tcward » Sun Sep 18, 2005 8:46 pm

Well, for once I am in fairly large disagreement with Fowler.

The car speeded away.

That doesn't sound right at all. I don't think I've ever heard speeded from a native adult speaker. (Children say "speeded" until they learn better.)

And what does "natural past" mean, anyway?

Take the phrase hold up, for example. Using the same "rules", the "natural past" for this phrase should be "holded up". But of course we say "held up" for the past tense, because the past tense of "hold" is held, not "holded".

Hmm. Whatever.

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Postby Garzo » Mon Sep 19, 2005 6:57 am

For the phrase to speed up, speeded up is the most usual past form. I have heard sped up in speech, but it looks awkward written.

I know of no other verbs that form alternative pasts by either regular -ed or vowel gradation. There are a handful that form alternative pasts with either -ed or -t, however.

In the case of the -ed/-t verbs, it seems that the more irregular -t ending is rarer in America than elsewhere. I remember David Crystal suggesting that study of these verbs shows that the -ed ending is preferred when the duration of the action is emphasized:
"I learned French at school."
"I learnt the French for 'aircraft carrier' yesterday."

I'm not entirely convinced by this, and would use learnt in both sentences. I beleive my transoceanic cousins would do the opposite.

Getting back to sped, I wonder whether this subtle difference in usage makes sense here.

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Postby Brazilian dude » Mon Sep 19, 2005 8:09 am

I know of no other verbs that form alternative pasts by either regular -ed or vowel gradation.

There's also pleaded and pled, leaned and leant, leaped and leapt, kneeled and knelt and dreamed and dreamt.

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Postby Stargzer » Tue Sep 20, 2005 2:20 pm

Garzo wrote: . . . I know of no other verbs that form alternative pasts by either regular -ed or vowel gradation. There are a handful that form alternative pasts with either -ed or -t, however. . . .
-- Garzo.


How about these irregular verbs pulled from the back of Cassell's French Dictionary:

- bereave -- bereaved / bereft

- beseech -- besought / beseeched

- light -- lit / lighted (although this one drops consonants, not vowels)

- wake -- woke / waked

- weave -- wove / weaved

- work -- worked / wrought (although wrought is supposedly rare except as in wrought iron, or in the first US Telegraph message, "What hath God wrought?")


There's also the two senses of cleave:

- cleave (v.t. to split) -- cleft / clove

- cleave (v.i. to cling) -- cleaved / clave

I guess that's what we get when we have such a mongrel language! :lol:
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Postby Garzo » Wed Sep 21, 2005 6:25 pm

Well, guys, technically, only light, wake, weave, cleave (cling) and plead count as being of the same class as speed, but thanks for finding them for me.

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Postby Brazilian dude » Wed Sep 21, 2005 7:01 pm

Why don't they count? You asked for vowel gradation, we gave you vowel gradation.

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Postby M. Henri Day » Thu Sep 22, 2005 3:46 pm

Brazilian dude wrote:... You asked for vowel gradation, we gave you vowel gradation.


Just to keep things simple, couldn't we call this phenomenon Ablaut instead ?...

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Postby Stargzer » Fri Sep 23, 2005 12:19 am

M. Henri Day wrote:
Brazilian dude wrote:... You asked for vowel gradation, we gave you vowel gradation.


Just to keep things simple, couldn't we call this phenomenon Ablaut instead ?...

Henri

Reading about ablaut led to an epiphany of apophony . . .

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