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The Use of Americanisms in British English, with a Specific Focus on Gotten: A Corpus Study


  • Jennifer Melckersson

Summary, in English

This essay aims to, with the support of an extensive corpus study, investigate the use of gotten in British English. Gotten is an alternative past participle of get which occurs mainly in American English, but is British in origin. The main goals of this essay are to investigate if and how this word is used in current British English, as well as how its use may have developed since the late 20th century, with a secondary goal of evaluating the usefulness of corpus studies in the context of recent regional language change. The claim that gotten is not used in British English is investigated through comparing the instances of gotten in the 1994 edition of the British National Corpus to instances in the more recent BNC2014. The gotten tokens are also sorted into categories for the purpose of determining how the word is used. As the BNC2014 purely consists of spoken language, tokens in a sample of the written Corpus of Global Web-based English are also categorized.

Results of the study indicate that gotten has seen an increase in usage in British English over the last few decades, though it is still rare and nonstandard. If the samples used in this study were to be considered indicative of English as a whole, it could also be concluded that gotten is being used in a more diverse manner in terms of meaning than previously, both in British and American English. We have also been able to see in this study that corpora which claim to be representative of a specific country’s dialect can face significant challenges in making sure that their data stems from the desired dialect.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Eva Klingvall