Date: Mon, 14 Oct 1996 11:10:30 -0700


Subject: Re: Stoled

O.k., Dennis, but historically speaking "felt" is not redundant, while

"stoled" is. I.e. "feel-felt" is historically a weak verb which had the

dental as its tense marker from the beginning, whereas "steal-stole" is

historically a strong verb which originally had the vowel alternation as

its tense marker (and no dental suffix), with the dental of "stoled" added

redundantly (and so far by a minority of speakers) later. I'm too lazy to

track down the origin of the vowel alternation in "feel-felt" just now,

but I see the verb was a regular weak verb in Old English, as the German

cognate "fuehlen-fuehlte-gefuehlt" is still today, and I assume the

alternation arose in Middle English, creating an apparent hybrid like the

products of so-called "Rueckumlaut" in German (e.g., "kennen-kannte-


In spite of the advanced decay of the strong verb class in English, I

think there are still enough such verbs in the language for its speakers

to be aware that they don't normally have the dental suffix to mark the

preterite and participle. So it's perfectly possible for the same native

speakers to find double-marked forms like "stoled" redundant without being

the least bit prescriptivist, Eastern elitist, or whatever it is you're

being sarcastic about.

Peter McGraw

Linfield College

McMinnville, OR

On Sat, 12 Oct 1996, Dennis R. Preston wrote:

Well, shucks, Jason, see us Mid-southerners and Midwesterners, we jist

don't understand East Coast logic. See, we got us a whole passel of them

redundants that I guess y'all don't have. Why, we even say 'felt' for the

preterite of 'feel' (which has already got a vowel-stem change so shouldn't

need no dental preterite marker). Reckon we're so slow out here though that

we'll hang on to them redundancies (particularly since it seems to be a

predictable and necessary feature of natural language). By the way, us

Hungarians (farther East than y'all) find phrases like 'two houses' or

'three chickens' pretty silly too. Redundant as all hell. Why put a plural

marker on a noun with a number sittin' out thar in front of it?

Oh, by the way, I'm right about 'vocalization.' It means 'gets to look like

a vowel' (or 'stops being a consonant'). I guess this was misunderstood as

'is pronounced.' If you want fancier words for the 'disappearances' of

nonprevocalic /r/ and /l/ in Southern States English, you caould go for /r/

'desulcalization' and /l/ 'delateralization,' but them's mighty biguns.


I don't understand (but I don't necessarily object to) the use of

"stoled." The -ed seems redundant. One already has the past in "stole."

Why add the same sense again with "-ed?" This is about as comprehensible to

my East Coast sensiblities as "roded"would be for the past tense of "ride."

. (An aside: I'm from near Baltimore, MD. Having a large number of American

dialects is a beautiful thing. That doesn't make the Baltimore accent any

less ugly.) I suppose it makes sense if one drops the L. BTW, "l-vocalizer."

seems to be used in two different senses. Which is correct?




I first encountered a problem with this word earlier in the year

when I tried to spell it and realized, looking at it, that it was not a

word. I continue

to use it, however. I like it.

Grant Barrett

Dennis R. Preston

Department of Linguistics and Languages

Michigan State University

East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA


Office: (517)432-1235

Fax: (517)432-2736