As a practicing English major I will confess to being a fussbudget over certain things. I refuse to allow the use of "impact" as a verb. I follow the Strunk & White dictum about the placement of "however" in a sentence, based on its usage. I insist that "enormity" must be used to refer not merely to the bigness of something, but the bigness and bad-ness of that thing. So Muffy wouldn't come back from Bloomington, MN, extolling "the enormity" of The Mall of America, but her anarchist ex-boyfriend would use just that word to explain why it should be blown up.
And when I hear the word "orientated" I absolutely cringe. It's oriented, damn it! "Orientated" is merely a bastard back-locution derived from "orientation."
(Yet I have seen references to the English preferring "orientated." I don't consider them [the references, not the English] authoritative, so the jury is out on that as far as I'm concerned.)
But until recently I haven't thought about the parallel "obliged" and "obligated." Lately, though, considering the "oriented/orientated" dichotomy, I have begun to think that "obligated" may result from the same sort of word inflation as "orientated." I've seen some comments to support that point of view, but again, nothing definitive.
Well, I did indeed check out the site Joel refers to (not references, thank you!) in the comments [http://www.takeourword.com], and here is what they say about oriented vs. orientated. (You'll have to scroll down the page to see it in context.):
In times like these we turn to the excellent H.W. Fowler's The New Fowler's Modern English Usage (third edition, edited by R. W. Burchfield) for a decision. He examines the words' etymologies (they both derive from the French desorienter, as Will Wagner points out). They both followed the same path to their present-day meanings, which are identical. In the end, Fowler says that the two words are equally interchangeable. One may find that orient is more common in the U.S., while orientate appears more frequently in the U.K., but they are still equal in meaning and correctness.
Perhaps so, but in my opinion "orientated" is still an Abomination Unto The Lord.
Nothing on Obliged vs. Obligated, however.