When reading an article on programming languages this morning, I came across this interesting verb formation (emphasis mine):

Any Brainfuck program can be easily converted to Boolfuck. The process is simple: it involves dumbly replacing each Brainfuck command with a long string of Boolfuck commands. In memory, nine bits are used to store what would be storn in eight bits using Brainfuck; the extra bit is used as a guard character when doing operations like incrementing and decrementing.

Is there any precedent for moving "store" into the past tense this way? Is it an original coinage by the author, or does it come from a (perhaps small or obscure) tradition in technical writing? What production rules is the author following? Are there other instances of these rules being applied to new verbs?

EDIT: Anyway, I understand that the null hypothesis here is "people love to play with their language, this was a one-off invention", I was just struck by this particular example because of how it illuminated a grammatical rule I hadn't thought of much before (the tendency of strong verbs to get -n in their past participle forms, even without a corresponding vowel change) and I was curious how often -n was used productively.

  • I’m voting to close this question because it focuses on a deliberately non-standard usage. Commented Jul 10, 2021 at 16:02

1 Answer 1


Playing with incorrect application of grammatical rules is a common feature of hacker culture, from which the language Brainfuck also derives: see the introduction to the Jargon File which documents this language. Other examples include using boxen as the plural of box and Unices instead of Unixes (the latter from Latin).

Storn could be by analogy with other past participles ending in orn such as worn and born, although it's not a perfect match (wear, bear vs store? Not quite). So it might just be a typo.

  • Wouldn't "drive/drove/driven" or "throw/threw/thrown" make more sense as a comparison? where -n is added to make the participle?
    – nightpool
    Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 20:14
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    I don't think it's a typo — plenty of internal logic there. Compare store / stored / storn to show / showed / shown and sew / sewed / sewn and others. Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 20:39
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    Germanic "strong"(i.e, irregular) past participles end in -en, while "weak" (regular) ones end in -t or -d. That's not true in English anymore -- vowel changes are pretty rare now -- but there's still a few -n verbs around. But they don't follow any pattern, and thus they're ripe for fiddling with. I think you've got the right of it. People often play with their language; it's practically a profession among Australian cultures.. Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 23:41
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    Haven't you swapped former for latter?
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 4:16
  • @tchrist I assumed they meant "the latter of the three examples" rather then "the former of the two plurals"
    – nightpool
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 14:06

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