There’s an interesting post at the Log today in which Geoff Pullum surprised me by writing:
At some time in the middle 1970s, Deirdre Wilson and I noticed that we had never seen the past participle of the verb stride anywhere. In fact we didn’t even know what it was. When you stride off, what is it that you’ve done? How would it be described? Have you strided? Have you strode? Have you stroded? Have you stridden? Have you strodden? We realized that we hadn’t a clue. None of them sounded familiar or even mildly acceptable to us as native speakers.
As I said in the thread:
I am American and spontaneously produced stridden (which I’m pretty sure I’ve actually used in speech); so did my wife, though since she had a British-born father her testimony may be tainted. At any rate, it is clearly a ridiculous overstatement to say it does not exist or is never used. The OED says, quite properly, “The pa. pple. rarely occurs.”
A number of other people also said stridden seemed natural to them. One commenter said “This reminds me of the fact that in Russian, there are a couple of nouns which lack a genitive plural form (but have all the usual forms, including a genitive singular). The word for ‘poker’ (the thing you find by a fireplace) is one of them.” To this I responded:
You’re thinking of кочерга [kochergá] ‘poker,’ which has a perfectly good genitive plural, кочерёг [kocheryóg]. But it’s not often used and isn’t intuitively obvious, so Russians can have a hard time coming up with it, as in a famous Zoshchenko story from 1939, “The Poker,” in which a factory director is trying to order five pokers (the numbers five and above requiring the genitive plural for the following noun) and in dictating his letter says “I urgently request the shipping of five… What the hell? I don’t remember how to write it: five koche… Three kochergi is clear. Four kochergi, no problem. But five.. what? Five…” The secretary tries to help by running through the declension: “Who, what? kocherga. Of whom, of what? kochergi. To whom, to what? kocherge…” But when he gets to the plural, the secretary says it’s swirling around in his head and he can’t remember it. Finally a clever member of the staff rewords it so it reads “We have six stoves and need a separate poker for each of them rather than the one we have now, so we need an additional five.” A very funny story.
Another commenter really riled me by writing “One time I heard someone say, ‘I used to could do that.’ It’s wrong in at least two different ways when you analyze it, but she did manage to get a ‘plain’ form out of ‘can’. Despite it’s incorrectness…” I tried to remain civil:
No, no, no, no. It is not “incorrect” or “wrong” just because it’s not part of your dialect. It is a perfectly good construction common in southern dialects; since I have Ozark forebears I am familiar with it and sometimes use it myself. English is a house of many mansions; let’s try not to pare it down to a puny one-room hut, eh?