1 June 2016

Marcelle Cole on BBC Radio's Word of Mouth

© iStockphoto.com/kfb

Dr Marcelle Cole (Language structure: variation and change) made an appearance on the BBC Radio programme Word of Mouth, where she answered questions on the subject of 'irregular verbs'.

Dr. Marcelle Cole
Dr Marcelle Cole

Cole first explained what irregular verbs are, comparing them to regular verbs: irregular verbs change their vowel in the past tense (begin, began, begun) while regular verbs but their ending (like, liked). "We have mostly regular verbs in the English language," said Cole, "and there's been a tendency over the course of time for irregular verbs to become regular". Cole also spoke, among other things, about the reasons for this loss of irregular verbs in our languages, and about some of the difficulties people might encounter when they are learning a new language. Cole also pointed out that irregular verbs are not as 'irregular' as we might think: the system of changing vowels when using the past tense has been around in the Germanic languages for a very long time while the widespread use of what we call 'regular' verbs is actually a relatively recent development.