A "good enough" mom muses about alpha moms, adoption, computers, the State Of The World, Internet quirkiness, and the Kosmik All
Certain irregularities
Write, wrote, written... Smite, smote, smitten... In her last post, OmegaMom spoke (speak, spoke, spoken) of Pat Robertson being in glee because of the way "we heathens are being smitten", then questioned the usage, offering up "smited" as the proper word. OmegaGranny very thoughtfully added a comment in which she claimed the word OmegaMom was looking for was "smote". This actually sent OmegaMom off on a grammar quest on the web. Oy! You know you're a geek of one kind or another when someone else's casual commentary spurs a dive into the dictionary, encylopedia, obscure corners of the web, or (o, geekiness of geekiness) the technical manual. Okay, let's see: It's passive voice (Who is smiting? the Lord. Who is the Lord smiting? Us.). It's present progressive or continuous (the action started in the past, and is continuing now--didn't this verb form used to have a different name?). So what's needed is the present progressive indicative (we are being) plus the past participle of smite (smitten. Dammit, it's SMITTEN. Smote is offered as an alternative, but the most common usage is listed first in this handy-dandy chart of irregular English verbs, and this chart [and others found on the web] claims SMITTEN is the more common usage). OmegaMom could have avoided this whole irregular verb brouhaha by simply writing, "Pat Robertson must be alternating between total glee at the way the Lord is smiting us heathens and simply being terrified all the time." But then you get into the question of whether it is "us heathens" or "we heathens". Sigh. You also run into the ambiguity of whether it is Pat Robertson or The Lord who is being terrified all the time. Though if you grew up in a proper Christian household, you know darned well that The Lord is never terrified, so the sentence stops being ambiguous. Forgive me. I grew up with my nose in dictionaries and encyclopedias. As a sop to non-geekiness, I offer up the fact that I hated grammar class with a passion. I'd much rather just play with words.
(Yes, I did it again. Within the space of TWO DAYS, I TWICE published something on the web where I confused the first- and third-person writing within ONE PHRASE. Sheesh. Excuse me while I go off and get my scrambled brains checked out.)
posted by Kate @ 1/06/2006 01:58:00 PM  
  • At 1/07/2006 01:25:00 PM, Blogger Miss Cellania said…

    "Smitten" may be the proper tense, but it sounds like you just fell in love with someone. Twitterpated, like. Amazing what can happen to language with overuse or underuse.

  • At 1/09/2006 04:43:00 PM, Blogger Kate said…

    "Twitterpated". That's a great word, Miss C. "Twitterpated"...I'm trying to figure out where I can use it...I have a rant churning in my brain, maybe I'll use it in that rant.

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About Me
Name: OmegaMom
Home: Southwest
About Me: Middle-aged mom of a 4-year-old adopted from China. Love science, debate, good SF and fantasy, hiking, music of almost every style. Lousy housekeeper. "Good enough" mom.
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