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When dinosaurs roamed the Earth

September 2, 2017

I’m watching Gardener’s World on BBC2 right now. I don’t like gardening at all but I do like gardens. And I rather like Monty Don. Anyway I don’t need to explain or defend myself, I just felt like watching it, OK? The point is that one of the presenters just said (on the subject of ferns) “a plant that thrived back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth”. Two things immediately occurred to me. The first was to note that regularised past tense, thrived. This verb used to have a mutated past tense form, throve. But you rarely hear it now. A similar thing has happened with the past tense of strive; one is much more likely to hear strived than strove these days. As for the past tense of dive, it is now always dived in British English, though Americans still stick to dove. There seems to be a pull to make past tense forms regular, especially when the word is seldom used; the more common irregular past forms are kept in good repair because they are used daily.

The second thing was that expression, “when dinosaurs roamed the Earth”. There seem to be no alternatives to this over-used idiom. Didn’t dinosaurs do anything other than roam? Is there no other way to refer to their reign? When I hear a particularly well-worn expression I always itch to think of a fresher way of saying it, but I’m drawing a blank here…

P.S. May I bring to your attention my comic fantasy YA novel The Infinite Powers of Adam Gowers – here is the link: https://unbound.com/books/adam-gowers . Go there and you will see a neat little 2-minute video of me explaining why the time for this novel has come! And if you support it you will get your name in the back and an invitation to the launch party.

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9 Comments
  1. When dinosaurs scavaged (past tense) , rampaged and generally ruled the earth?

  2. Yes, I’d quite like ‘rampaged around the Earth’.

  3. Simon Carter permalink

    Is hove still used in the nautical sense as the past tense of heave?
    Veering off topic as usual tomorrow is the 828th anniversary of the date chosen to mark time immemorial, another cliche beloved of tv presenters.

  4. Apparently dived is the older form, with dove appearing later in US by analogy with drive/drove.

  5. Several sources, but includes Merriam Webster : see https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/dived-or-dove-which-is-correct. .
    I confess it was Google that told me – but I had previously thought the US dove habit was relatively recent.

  6. Thank you! Now we just need to find out why they say shined instead of shone.

  7. Well, I suppose the trick is not to get too bothered by it all – it’s all part of the evolution of our lovely language. And the internet can only accelerate the process. In a way it would be worse if we had the french attitude of trying to regulate and control it all. If it wasn’t for all those ‘mistakes’ of grammar in daily usage we’d all be speaking proto-indo-european. The richness of English is it’s multitude of varieties. There’s an interesting article in Wikipedia on the evolution of strong verbs in Germanic languages like ours (see https://goo.gl/fQDA6q). The brother’s Grimm seem to have been the first to get interested in that subject.

    Thanks for the interesting blog.

  8. damn – its not it’s!!!!

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