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H.L. Mencken (1880–1956). The American Language. 1921.

Page 276

Winwon (or wan) 49won (or wan)
Wish (wisht)wishtwisht
  A glance at these conjugations is sufficient to show several general tendencies, some of them going back, in their essence, to the earliest days of the English language. The most obvious is that leading to the transfer of verbs from the so-called strong conjugation to the weak—a change already in operation before the Norman Conquest, and very marked during the Middle English period. Chaucer used growed for grew in the prologue to “The Wife of Bath’s Tale,” and rised for rose and smited for smote are in John Purvey’s edition of the Bible, circa 1385. Many of these transformations were afterward abandoned, but a large number survived, for example, climbed for clomb as a preterite of to climb, and melted for molt as the preterite of to melt. Others showed themselves during the early part of the Modern English period. Comed as the perfect participle of to come and digged as the preterite of to dig are both in Shakespeare, and the latter is also in Milton and in the Authorized Version of the Bible. This tendency went furthest, of course, in the vulgar speech, and it has been embalmed in the English dialects. I seen and I knowed, for example, are common to many of them. But during the seventeenth century it seems to have been arrested, and even to have given way to a contrary tendency—that is, toward strong conjugations. The English of Ireland, which preserves many seventeenth century forms, shows this plainly. Ped for paid, gother for gathered, and ruz for raised are still in use there, and Joyce says flatly that the Irish, “retaining the old English custom (i. e., the custom of the period of Cromwell’s invasion, circa 1650), have a leaning toward the strong inflection.” 50 Certain verb forms of the American colonial period, now reduced to the estate of localisms, are also probably survivors of the seventeenth century.