Tuesday, 12 August 2008

dance with the verb who brung you

I've recently encountered a mix of opinions about brang, brung: they're mutilations, they're stupid, they're not words, they're brand new words. I'd assumed that brang, brung were recent innovations by analogy with sang, sung. It seems they are not.

Cædmon's Metrical Paraphrase of parts of the Holy Scripture
ꝥ he þa bẏꞅene ꝼꞃom ᵹoꝺe ·
bꞃunᵹen hæꝼꝺe ·

( he þa bysene from gode ·
brungen hæfde ·)
"that from God those mandates he had brung"

Exeter Book, Riddle 25
Ic eom ... brungen of bearwum ond of burghleoþum
"I am brung from woods and fortress-heights (cliff-sides)"

The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology claims that the Old English strong past participle gebrungen became modern dialectical brung. Bosworth & Toller has two Old English verbs: weak brengan, p. brōhte, pp. brōht, and strong bringan, p. brang or brong, pp. brungen.

11 comments :

Jon Boy said...

Awesome! If it's good enough for Cædmon, it's good enough for me.

The OED backs up Bosworth and Toller. They say it was probably formed on analogy of þinc/þanc/þunc, which was originally a strong verb before becoming weak, giving us the modern-day think/thought. Interesting that þinc and bring went opposite directions.

goofy said...

think was originally a strong verb? There must have been a weak form in pre-Old English, since there is German denken, dachte.

Jon Boy said...

That's what the OED says—that although it appears as a weak verb in all the Germanic languages, including Gothic, it is generally believed to have been a strong verb at some point in the past. I really have no idea what evidence they have for that.

mahendra singh said...

Brang and brung, especially the latter, are heard daily in the American South and South West and have been as long as I can remember … 46 years.

They are regarded as the linguistic equivalents of putting up a car on cinder blocks or drinking an RC Cola & Moonpie, even by their users.

I kind of miss RC Cola now …

goofy said...

They are regarded as the linguistic equivalents of putting up a car on cinder blocks or drinking an RC Cola & Moonpie, even by their users.

That's a nice analogy, altho I had to find out what RC Cola is. I remember hearing "brung" as a kid in southern Ontario.

Glen Gordon said...

I'm happy to say that I'm part of the "brought" crowd here in Winnipeg, Canada. However, I think there might be a few "brungers" in nearby small towns like Steinbach or Winkler, hehehe. (Sorry, inside joke.)

mahendra singh said...

RC Cola is a cola drink, sold in the South only, it's far sweeter than Coke. The Moonpie is a horrific amalgam of marshamallow, chocolate icing and some odd sort of wafer …

It's interesting how weaker constructions seem to hold on in rural, more remote areas. Is it a stubborn atavism or rather a default of the human tongue & mind?

Editrix said...

I have a soft spot for "brung." I didn't stop saying it until high school, about the same time I stopped saying "holler" for "yell" (because my drama teacher told me "holler" sounded "hillbilly"; remembering that makes me want to start using "holler" again, in defiance). So, this post has pleased me to no end.

Editrix said...

God, now I want a Moonpie.

mahendra singh said...

now I want a glass of Virginia Gentleman bourbon with ice-cold branch water … I bet this thread is baffling the inestimable Goofy

goofy said...

Indeed, I don't understand you people with your "brungs" and your "moonpies" and your "Virginia gentlemen"...