This article challenges the accepted opinion that the American English perfect form HAVE gotten is a straightforward historical retention of an earlier British English form. Although HAVE gotten was presumably part of the settler input in North America, it (almost) died out in American English as well, but was then revived in the nineteenth century, as historical corpus data show. Contrary to expectations, this revival was not an innovation from below. Instead, the rise of HAVE gotten was promoted by careful writers who deliberately avoided the highly stigmatized stative HAVE got. This explains why perfect HAVE gotten appears in more formal text types first, and how it became specialized to dynamic contexts only. The morphological Americanism HAVE gotten is thus a curious case of an (unintended) side-effect of marginally successful prescriptivism.1

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