Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Mon Sep 3 16:50:52 UTC 2012

On Sep 3, 2012, at 9:03 AM, Jan Kammert wrote:

> I am a middle school teacher.  My school is considering purchasing a new
> US history textbook.  I noticed that a caption in the book talked about a
> rebel being hung.  I pointed out that the word should be hanged.  My
> colleagues disagreed.  They said the usage has changed, and hung is just
> as acceptable even in academic writing.  What do the rest of you think?

yet another case where a visit to MWDEU is in order.  there's a substantial article, including this:

The distinction between _hanged_ and _hung_ has been a topic for commentary since Joseph Priestley first broached the subject in 1769. The issue was raised by only a few writers in the 19th century, but 20th-century commentators have taken up the cause wholeheartedly, and almost all books on usage now include some mention of _hanged_ and _hung_. The primary concern of the critics is that _hung_ should not be used in the "execute" sense, or that such use should at least be avoided in formal writing. Many commentators recognize that _hung_ for _hanged_ is now common in standard English, but more than a few persist in describing it as an error, pure and simple.

Our evidence shows that _hung_ for _hanged_ is certainly not an error. Educated speakers and writers use it commonly and have for many years: [exx going back 100 years].

[conclusion] The distinction between _hanged_ and _hung_ is not an especially useful one (although a few commentators claim otherwise). It is, however, a simple one and certainly easy to remember. Therein lies its popularity. If you make a point of observing the distinction in your writing, you will not thereby become a better writer, but you will spare yourself the annoyance of being corrected for having done something that is not wrong.


cue postings on incorrection.

i like it when Ward Gilman gets testy.


The American Dialect Society -

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