Was Alice In Wonderland a “drunk”, or was she in Wonderland merely because she had been drinking a magic potion?
“It did so indeed, and much sooner than she had expected: before she had drunk half the bottle, she found her head pressing against the ceiling, and had to stoop to save her neck from being broken. She hastily put down the bottle, saying to herself ‘That’s quite enough–I hope I shan’t grow any more — As it is, I can’t get out at the door — I do wish I hadn’t drunk quite so much!’ ~~”ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND” by Lewis Carroll, Chapter IV.
Lewis Carroll, the creator of Alice in Wonderland, was born in 1832. He attended Rugby School and was graduated from Christ Church College, Oxford, becoming a mathematician. He also studied for the priesthood. He died in 1898, 43 years before I was born. Yet for some reason, both he and I use the same grammatical verb construction that my erudite children tell me is substandard English.
My sons tell me that “drunk” is a person, not a verb and that is how they learned it at school. I am just as certain that I learned at school that an intoxicated person was a “drunkard” and that “drunk” was the past participle of the verb “drink.” My sons have shown me with the dictionary in my own home that they are correct. They say my sub-standard grammar is the result of my being born and reared in Baltimore, Maryland. Although it took me only 66 years to discover the errors of my ways, I seem to be in good company if the famous author Lewis Carrol was using the same grammatical construction in his writings. And I doubt that he ever came anywhere near the influence of Baltimore.
Dictionary.com gives this explanation:
—Usage note As with many verbs of the pattern sing, sang, sung and ring, rang, rung, there is some confusion about the forms for the past tense and past participle of drink. The historical reason for this confusion is that originally verbs of this class in Old English had a past-tense singular form in a but a past-tense plural form in u. Generally the form in a has leveled out to become the standard past-tense form: We drank our coffee. However, the past-tense form in u, though considered nonstandard, occurs often in speech: We drunk our coffee.
The standard and most frequent form of the past participle of drink in both speech and writing is drunk: Who has drunk all the milk? However, perhaps because of the association of drunk with intoxication, drank is widely used as a past participle in speech by educated persons and must be considered an alternate standard form: The tourists had drank their fill of the scenery.
American Heritage has this online:
drunk – Past participle of drink.
Thank you American Heritage Dictionary!