ring, rang, rung

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue May 9 19:39:35 UTC 2006

At 2:59 PM -0400 5/9/06, sagehen wrote:
>  >From Reynolds Price: /The good Priest's Son/ p. 64 --"Or so he felt, as the
>promising waves spread out and rung his head and shoulders like orchid leis
>in a 1950s Hawaiian movie."
>It never would occur to me to use "rung" to mean  encircled, but  is there
>a dialect in which that is permissible? This might, of course just be one
>of those absurd spell-checker artifacts.
>A. Murie
I've actually used this as a class exercise:  why is the past tense
of the verb "to ring" meaning 'surround' RINGED rather than RANG?
[or, I would assume, RUNG]  The point is analogous to the observation
that the past tense of the denominal verb "grandstand" must be
"grandstanded" rather than "grandstood", as Pinker discusses.  But
now it turns out the "ring" fact may be wrong--like Pinker's point
about how we have to say a batter "FLIED out" to left and not "FLEW
out", when in fact many speakers, including sports announcers, do
indeed say that the batter flew out to left.  So it's not too
surprising if some (although I'm not among them) can talk about waves
that rung (or rang) someone's head like leis.

Do I hear SOTA?


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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