Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Thu Jul 2 13:45:26 UTC 2009

On Jul 1, 2009, at 11:46 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:

> FWIW, I've been strangled, but  obviously not killed. I was just
> beginning to black out - or is that "black-out"? - when the  other
> guy, an older and bigger kid pretending to be a giant, a troll, or
> some such in some stupid ex-tempore game, somehow had the sense to let
> go of my throat.

everybody seems to be right.  OED2 has the mortal sense as the
original (from 1303), but the weaker 'to constrict painfully (the neck
or throat)' sense -- close to one sense of "choke" -- from c1450.
(meanwhile, "choke" developed a mortal sense.)

i suspect that many people are inclined to discriminate transitive
"strangle" (normally conveying an endpoint) from transitive "choke
(not necessarily conveying an endpoint).  i am.

but even if you do usually discriminate the verbs this way, you might
want to make the endpoint explicit, for the sake of others.  of
course, if you do this, some people will complain about the redundancy
of your language.

(and, before someone brings this up, "strangle" in the progressive
does *not* convey an endpoint; this is a general observation about
telic verbs.)


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