Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Just an observation, with the possibility for someone to tell me if there's a general rule at work here. If you have a new verb that ends in -er, how do you form the past tense?

Cases in point.

  • The noun (trademark, actually) Taser has begotten the verb to taser. (In fact, the derived verb is more frequently spelled to tazer, a trend; see below.) When Andrew Meyer was subdued at U Florida (#) recently, the cops used a Taser. Was Meyer tased or tasered? Google currently shows a combined 232,000 hits for tasered/tazered, a combined 494,000 for tased/tazed.

  • People use the web site to record their, um, quotidian activities. When you've done so, have you twittered or twitted? It's not possible (or not easy, there's the rub) to use Google to find instances specific to Twitter, because the verbs already exist with other meanings. However, you can find examples of both forms that refer specifically to ... here's a twittered (the writer also tentatively tried out tweeted); here's twitted.

  • On a more established front, we get 35,000 hits for lasered/lazed +eyes and 69,000 hits for lased/lazed +eyes.

Based on the two quantitative measures, more people seem to think that the inflectable stem does not include the trailing -er. Is this because -er is already understood as a particle, namely to make a comparative form for the adjective? Do we have verbs in English whose infinitive form ends in a removable -er suffix? I can't think of any after several concentrated moments of thought.

Anyway, something to contemplate.