[Marxism] Schoolmarm grammar (was: Largest execution)

mjs at smithbowen.net mjs at smithbowen.net
Fri Dec 28 12:21:12 MST 2012


> With respect, may I note that the past tense of "hang," with reference to
> executing a person, is "hanged." The past tense for a picture is "hung."


Slooowly I turned. This is what philologists refer to as schoolmarm
grammar.

Now in fact from the earliest times there have been two 'hang' words
in English, represented by Old English (= "Anglo-Saxon") 'hangian' and
'hôn' -- the former being a weak verb, past tense 'hangode', and the latter
a strong verb, past tense 'heng', participle 'hangen'. 'hôn' gives us our
modern hang, hung, through routine phonetic changes which are thoroughly
understood. 'hangian' survives only in the shibboleth usage 'hanged'
when referring to the method of execution. But both words have always
been used for both. In the Anglo-Saxon translation of Genesis we find
'hine man hçng' (they hung him) in reference to Joseph's unfortunate
cellmate the baker. In fact you could make a pretty good case that 'hung'
is actually preferable to 'hanged' and the latter hypercorrect, since
'hangian' mostly seems to be used in an intransitive sense.






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