[Marxism] Schoolmarm grammar

Ken Hiebert knhiebert at shaw.ca
Sat Dec 29 12:03:49 MST 2012


Ken Hiebert said:
Granted that English is full of inconsistencies and odd usages and granted that "correct" usage changes over time, we might as well use the "correct" usage unless it makes us sound snooty or pretentious. I  don't think "hanged" would strike most people as odd or pretentious, so we might as well use it as the past tense of hang when referring to capital punishment.
Perhaps only a few people would notice an "incorrect" usage, but why should we get into a debate with them over usage when we wish to engage them in other discussions.


Michael Smith replied:
Not sure at whom this is directed, but I for one repudiate 
completely the whole idea of correct and incorrect usage. 
That's the point of the subject heading. 

And of course the 'inconsistencies' and 'odd usages' (odd by 
what standards?) of English are at least half the charm of 
English philology. 


Ken Hiebert replies:
English, along with every other living language, is evolving.  So I don't want to insist on any timeless standard of English.
But i do try to be "correct."  While I would lustily join in singing Phil Ochs' I Ain't  Marchin' Any More, i would be unlikely to use the word ain't in a public speech.  i would be afraid that such a usage might make it difficult for some people to take me seriously.  Even if it can be shown that 150 years ago ain't was entirely "correct."
At the same time I would think twice before a I corrected someone else who used that expression.  I would want to be sure that such a correction would be welcome.

As for the word hanged as the past tense of hang referring to capital punishment, I could be out of date.  But if this usage is still quite common, why shouldn't we stick with it?


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