Can you enlighten me any further on the differences between interpretations of "It's gone" in NA & the UK?(You can probably tell from the NA [=North America] that Brett is writing from Canada.) Brett covers this issue on his English, Jack blog, where he writes:
I was somewhat taken aback recently when a disucssion on the ETJ mailing list brought to light the different interpretations of the 's in "Where's my car? It's gone." It turns out that most North American speakers of English interpret this as "My car is gone?" while British speakers tend to parse it as "My car has gone."
John Algeo, in his book British or American English?, reports that contracted have ('ve) is more common in BrE--about 1.5 times more frequent in BrE overall, but more than 5 times more frequent in BrE when used as a main verb, rather than an auxiliary verb. (Which is just part of the reason that I am annoyed that many people stereotype AmE as contracting more than BrE. If you claim it, back it up, and use some subtlety in your analysis, please!) So, while contractions of the type in (1) the most common uses of 've in both dialects, (2) is much more likely to be found in BrE than in AmE:
(1) I've been thinking. (have = auxiliary verb, expressing tense/aspect)When have occurs between a subject pronoun and a not, the speaker has a choice--to contract the have with the pronoun (I've not gargled, she's not gargled) or to contract the not (I haven't gargled, she hasn't gargled). In both BrE and AmE, it is more common to contract the not. But the I've/she's not pattern is much more likely to be heard in BrE than in AmE; in Algeo's words the 've/'d not pattern is a "statistical Briticism". In the Cambridge International Corpus, he found for auxiliary have:
(2) I've a secret (have = main verb, meaning 'possess')
BrE: I haven't VERBed is 2.5 times more frequent than I've not VERBedThe contracted have is less common still in the past tense, but the BrE/AmE difference is more stark:
AmE: I haven't VERBed is 26 times more common than I've not VERBed
BrE: I hadn't VERBed is 20 times more frequent than I'd not VERBedBecause BrE has an easier time allowing the contraction of main verb have, it is much more likely to allow negated contracted have as a main verb. However, it is more common in both dialects to insert a do and contract that to the not.
AmE: I hadn't VERBed is nearly 140 times more common than I'd not VERBed
BrE: I don't have any NOUN is 10 times more frequent than I haven't any NOUN.While writing this blog over the past few months, I've been vaguely aware that while I mark many variant spellings/words as I write, I don't mark my contractions as AmE or BrE. Since the favo(u)red forms are the same in both dialects, I suppose I can (retroactively) justify that lack of dialect-marking. But I've also been aware that I do type (and say) things like I've not (like here and here and here and more places) and they've not (here) and you've not (here), and I have the feeling that that's one area in which I've Britified myself a bit. Or bitified myself a Brit, possibly.
AmE: I don't have any NOUN is 60 times more frequent than I haven't any NOUN.
BrE: I don't have a NOUN is 6 times more frequent than I haven't a NOUN.
AmE: I don't have a NOUN is 55 times more frequent than I haven't a NOUN.
And while I know the comments will probably go all over the place even if I do say the following... If you'd like to discuss contractions involving other verbs, please send an e-mail rather than writing a comment. I will get to other contracted verbs at some point, but don't want to do so in the comments section!