As a foreigner, I always get quite confused when I read/hear the expression "drunken driver" because I understood expressions like these call for the past participle of a verb; i.e. “missed appointment”, “closed case”, etc. If I recall correctly the past participle of "to drink" is "drunk". I don't see the word drunken as a proper conjugation on the list of verbs I was given to memorize when I was learning English. If I were to guess, I would say that “drunken” is being used erroneously but before making any right or wrong assumptions, I would like to know the opinion of an English teacher/expert in this matter.
NOT A TEACHER
(1) Here in the United States, the media (newspapers, TV stations, etc.) usually refer
to the crime of "drunk driving" and to the people as "drunk drivers."
(2) I notice that our British friends refer to the crime as "drink driving." I do not
know how they refer to the drivers.
NOT A TEACHER
New Oxford American Dictionary, 2nd Edition.
Anyone who is obviously or legally under the influence of
alcohol is said to be drunk.
Drunken means the same thing, but only drunk should be
used predicatively - that is, after a linking verb (she was drunk) -
while drunken is more often used to modify a noun (a drunken sailor) and,
in some cases, to imply habitual drinking to excess. Drunken is also used
to modify nouns that do not refer to a person (a drunken celebration).
You'll find signs of these pairs of past participles in various other cases; 'proved'/'proven' say. 'Proven' is chiefly used attributively: 'a proven case/treatment/success...'. The two forms existed, and usage has tended to favour the one in a certain position.
In old texts you'll find these 'en' participles used predicatively. The Christmas Carol Ding dong merrily on high says 'Let steeple bells be swungen. And IO-IO-IO by priest and people [U]sungen[/U']. The words 'swungen' and 'sungen' no longer exist.
PS In regional dialects, these extra participles persist. I had a friend who used to talk about a 'boughten cake' (rather than a home-made one).
PPS I've just posted a (totally unrelated, but maybe interesting) teaching resource on a different sort of '-en' verb at http://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resour...tives-6094016/
Last edited by BobK; 05-Jul-2011 at 12:10. Reason: PSs Added
Welcome to the forum, Lisa.
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