Saturday, June 09, 2007

Brought vs Bought - Again

I had an interesting conversation about the who Bought vs Brought confusion last night.
The two American girls I discussed it with were both very surprised to hear that the words are confused. It seems to be quite a divided issue. One guy I talked to said he used to use brought for bought, but now that he has been working on that has started to catch himself saying bought for brought!

So I thought I'd follow up with a couple of pieces of literature I've found on the topic.

This from Blooming English by (Kate Burridge, 2002) She seems to be convinced that the use of bought is becoming 'entrenched'. It seems she is an Australian, so much for the UK connection to bought...

An American (Michael A Covington) seems to say that people tend to use the words interchangeably blaming the fact that there is only one phoneme difference and any errors are unlikely to be noticed more than a simple slip of the tongue.

Personally I think Michael has probably got it right, we often accidentally mispronounce the words, and because our brain works the way it does, automatically translate the word to the correct one. People like me who grew up around mumblers naturally tend towards one pronunciation or the other.

BTW: Blooming English looks like quite an interesting book, if you are a keen on Linguistics. As a for taste, have a look at this blog post from "Semantically Challenged".

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At 12:40 PM, Blogger Rochelle said...

Very interesting. I had been doing a couple of edits of relatives' letters for a scrapbook, and noticed this problem. Thanks for the information!

At 3:37 AM, Anonymous Danielle ( said...

Hello! I've just had the final straw with hearing you Commonwealth people mistakenly use "brought" for "bought" so I had to goggle it to see if I was imagining things, and I found your blog. Yes it doesn't look like you actively blog anymore, but I'm still going to comment because I HAVE to.

I'm American. I live in Australia. I first heard one of my husband's friends say "I brought something" when he obviously meant bought. I just thought, well he must not be very educated. Then months later, I heard my Aussie husband say it! Of course I tried to correct him... "no you purchased it, which means you bought it, not brought it. Brought is the past tense of..." THEN today I was watching an English girl's YouTube video and she distinctly said "brought" twice in a row to refer to some make-up purchases of hers. So I had to goggle. what the hell is going on? :-p oh and my degree is in Psychology, but this commonwealth linguistic cult that's going on over here in Australia is craziness. Don't even get me started on the pronunciation of lasso. I'm from Texas, don't tell me it's "lah-sue."
thanks for the vent!

At 3:29 PM, Blogger James said...

Thanks for the comment Danielle,

You’re right I really should start blogging again :)

I must apologise for the lack of care taken in commonwealth English.

BTW: My latest pet hate is people who say ‘women’ like ‘Wo Men’ rather than wimin.

As one guy on the net put it
Some Women = Sum Wimin
A Woman = Ah Wughmin

Perhaps that can be my next blog…

At 1:45 PM, Anonymous jan smith said...

as i suspected - the increasing use of 'purchase' is because Americans (and Australians) now find it too hard to distinguish 'bought' from 'brought.
As a journalist I was taught to avoid 'purchase' because it's pretentious. Like 'reside'
Even The Spectator has succumbed. Truly, the end of civilisation


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