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I've been constantly been hearing the non-standard forms "tooken" and "shooken" in many people's spoken speech (particularly in the Northeast of the USA).

Does anyone know when these forms originated and when and how they are used in place of shook or shaken or took or taken?

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    I teach in a public high school, and I might hear students say "tooken" weekly. I would say among my students it's more common than "knowed" (for "knew") but less common than "brung" (for "brought"). – Chaim Sep 28 '17 at 19:09
  • The OED has examples going back to the 1380s (and in every century since), but no real discussion of the form. – 1006a Sep 28 '17 at 20:14
  • Your question is unclear. Is your question "How common are they in speech?", or is it "How common are they in speech in the northeast USA?", or is it "When did these forms originate and how are they used - as preterites or as past participles?". – rjpond Sep 28 '17 at 22:38
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    I believe many who use them also use taken/shaken. I wouldn't assume anyone uses them in place of taken/shaken. They may just use them to make an aspectual distinction. – Phil Sweet Sep 30 '17 at 1:14
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    And then there is the much more recent (dating to around 2015 or so, I would venture) form I am shooketh, which is just silly. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 10 at 9:52
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To add to rjpond's etymological answer, I thought I'd add some frequencies. I am looking for articles on "tooken" and "shooken," and whether they're common in certain AmE dialects (I don't know of any off the top of my head), or what conditions their use, but here's what I have so far and I'll come back to this answer if I find any research.


According to the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), comparing across transcriptions of speech only, "tooken" is used in less than 0.05% of "taken/tooken" tokens and "shooken" is used instead of "shaken" approximately 0.5% of the time.

Now, I'd take these with a grain of salt, as not only were the low-frequency forms in the low double-digits, the COCA says:

Transcripts of unscripted conversation from more than 150 different TV and radio programs (examples: All Things Considered (NPR), Newshour (PBS), Good Morning America (ABC), Today Show (NBC), 60 Minutes (CBS), Hannity and Colmes (Fox), Jerry Springer, etc).

This means they are transcriptions of real speech, but not entirely naturalistic, and don't reflect stigmatized dialectic usages (as "tooken" or "shooken" is likely to be considered).

In terms of the third issue (naturalness), there is one aspect of these texts that does make them somewhat unlike completely natural conversation. That is of course the fact that the people knew that they were on a national TV or radio program, and they therefore probably altered their speech accordingly -- such as relatively little profanity and perhaps avoiding highly stigmatized words and phrases like "ain't got none". ... But no spoken corpus (even those created by linguists with tape recorders in the early 1990s) will be 100% authentic for real conversation -- as long as people know that they're being recorded.

(Emphasis added.)


COCA doesn't link very well, so to find these quotes, from the homepage, click on "large and balanced" to the right to reach the first quote and "See notes" on that page to reach the second."

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The OED notes archaic and dialectal use of "tooken" both as a preterite (meaning "took") and as a past participle (meaning "taken").

For "shooken", it notes only its use as a past participle (meaning "shaken") - although it includes a Middle English variant of the plural preterite form "scæken" (meaning "shook") - the vowel of which isn't close to "oo", but it does show the "-en" ending hasn't always been unique to the participle for that verb either.

For the past participle of "shake", the OED gives these forms:

pa. pple. α. OE sceacen, scacen, scæcen, ME schaken, ( yshaken), s(c)hakun, schake, ME–15 shake, ME i-sake, ME–15 Sc. schakyn, 15–16 Sc. scha(i)kin, 15 Sc. shaikne, shacken, shakken, ME– shaken. β. ME schacked, 15–16 shak'd, shakt, 15 shakte, 16 shak't, 18 dial. shacked, shakked, shak't, 15– shaked. γ. (15 shooken), 16 shooke, 18 dial. shock, shooken, shookt, shu(c)k, -en, Sc. sheuken, shooken, 16– shook

For the simple past (or preterite) of "take", the OED gives forms including

Eng. regional 18– tooken; U.S. regional 18 tucken, 19– tooken.

and offers examples such as:

1887 M. E. M. Davis in Wide Awake Nov. 377 Mars' Jay-bird he tucken sick.

1897 F. T. Jane Lordship 21 He tooken off his coat.

1927 E. C. L. Adams Congaree Sketches xvi. 36 Jube tooken sick, an' he cry like a chile.

1996 New Yorker 19 Aug. 56/3 She tooken up for him even though her child needed correcting.

For the past participle of "take", the OED gives forms including:

lME token, lME tokyn, 15–16 (17– regional) tooken; Eng. regional (Cumberland) 18– tukkan, 19– tocken; U.S. regional (chiefly south.) 18 tucken; Sc. pre-17 tockin, pre-17 tuikin, pre-17 tukin, 18 tucken, 18 tukken, 19– tookin, 19– tuiken.

and there are examples such as

a1450 (▸c1410) H. Lovelich Hist. Holy Grail xlviii. 38 Tho that At thike table were these wardis to presomcioun token there.

1596 T. Nashe Haue with you to Saffron-Walden sig. G3v If thou hadst tooken the paynes of quotations.

1610 J. Donne Pseudo-martyr xii. 353 The Popes haue tooken order..to enact [etc.].

as well as some more recent ones.

  • The -en ending is not unexpected in Middle English – it is the regular preterite plural ending in the Midlands area in the earlier parts of ME (after which it was lost), so it appeared in pretty much all verbs. The other ME past-tense forms given by the OED (schok, schook, choke, shakyd, etc.) would presumably also have had plural forms that added -en (schoken, schooken, choken, shakyden, etc.) if they were used in the Midlands area at the time; it just happens that there aren’t any other plural quotes that are early enough. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 10 at 9:49

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