Okay, so this question came up the other day and it's not the first time, but it got me to thinking about words in English with variant past tenses and past participles; what is correct? Can one use somewhat archaic formations that may now be dialectal English or even obsolete and still get the message across? What are the rules for the myriad past tenses and past participles that can exist for one word? I know there are certain rules wherein it is used, but often as an attributive adjective such as "sunken" in the example,
"the sunken ship";
however, what do I do when I am editing someone's English paper and the writer insists on writing constructions that don't go with usual rules in Modern English? Here are a few examples that I have had to debate about whether I should edit or allow the writer a certain cachet or style in his writing, not to mention that I am not 100% sure whether these can't be used this way and still follow the rules to the point that it's not a grammatical error or a form of catachresis:
"By the time they arrived on scene, the ship had sunken into the deep blue sea." (past participle: to sink)
"By springtime, the snow has usually molten from site." (past participle: to melt)
"The batter knows he swang at a bad pitch." (simple past: to swing)
Now, I've looked these up in several dictionaries, both online and in book form, and they appear to work. "Swang" as the simple past for "swing" says in some dictionaries that it's archaic, dialectal, "archaic and/or dialectal", nonstandard, and the list probably can go on.
I know there are strange past tenses as well as some that are not used too often. I can list some and hope you can figure out where they come from if you should not know them offhand: slank, stang, slang, wrang, snuck, clave, wrothe, writhen, chode, chid, stove, rove, shope, shapen, misshapen, drunken, shove, shaven, shore, snew, snown, crew, abode, abidden, bode, bidden.
In my editing within the last couple of years, I've run into a few of these listed above in sentences similar to the ones listed below:
"He slank through the hallway."
"Man has been shapen in God's image."
"He wrang the man's neck."
I've looked up "wrang" to see whether it can be used as the past tense of "wring" and it's hard to find it in most dictionaries, but I have found it in a couple as an alternative past tense or one that is archaic or dialectal, and it appears to have some provenance as I have found that wringen in German has a simple past tense of wrang and a past participle of gewrungen.
Then there's "snuck" as the past tense and past participle of "to sneak", which gives me pause in correcting since I've been chidden before for having corrected this form:
"He snuck out with his friends."
In this situation, I've always been told that "snuck" is bad English; the past tense should be "sneaked"; however, some dictionaries give it a pass as a new variant that has gone from a weak verb to a strong verb in its past tense. Does that mean I allow this one to go by unedited?
Basically, my question is this: What do I do with someone who likes to write with this style? Is the style fine to allow to go uncorrected or is he just wrong? What are some of the rules for these past tenses and past participles.