Gotten vs got: what a literary critic needs to know.

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I was considering myself as on summer leave from all things linguistic, but I can’t let this howler from Carmen Callil go unremarked. In case you don’t know of her, Ms Callil is a writer and critic of some renown, and a founder of the Virago Press, so she is someone whose literary opinions carry considerable weight. Among many other things, she does book reviews for The Guardian newspaper and it is here that her recent review of Julie Orringer’s book The Invisible Bridge is to be found:
 The book tells the story of Andras Levi, a Hungarian studying in Paris at the Ecole Speciale d’Architecture in the late 1930s. He falls for Klara Morgenstein, and the lovers’ tale unfolds against the backdrop of  anti-Semitism and the fate of Hungary’s Jewish population during World War II.

Now, I have no way of knowing whether Ms Callil’s lukewarm review is fair or not as I have not read the book and anyway I am not a literary critic, but there’s one criticism of hers that I am qualified to judge. And I judge it as bad linguistics. Continue reading
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