Robert Russel describes your use of “gotten” as “an awful Americanism”, and he conflates it with Erika Askeland’s piece on language abuse (Perspective, 4 August). This betrays multiple misunderstandings about the nature of language and the nature of English and Scots, not to mention a rather unfortunate attitude to our American cousins.
Language is determined by usage, nothing else: there is no correct or incorrect use of language, only a recognition of current practice and usage, such as received pronunciation.
Abuse of language, when it occurs, is abuse of ideas. Error, when it occurs, is usage that obscures meaning by a failure to understand the meaning of words, or in syntax, such as thecurrent usage of words such as “obsessing”, “enormity” and “fulsome”.
The word “gotten” is an archaic form in Scotland, still in occasional use – and surviving vigorously in the saying “ill-gotten gains” – which Scots probably took to the United States, where it is normal usage.
It is in exactly the same category as “pled” for “pleaded” in Scotland, normal usage that occasionally produces similarly patronising comments when it is used in England by Scots. Another archaic usage example is “tret” for “treated” in the north-east of England.
The English language is not the property of pedants in Britain – it is a world language, spoken in an estimated 80-plus countries in the world, probably more, with an estimated 90-100 millions users, in an almost infinite number of variations, all valid.
American (and Canadian) English in its variations may be the largest single group, and is generally recognised as American English, with its own famous Webster’s Dictionary, which in the old Bing Crosby/Bob Hope film, The Road to Morocco, is “morocco bound”.
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