ring, rang, rung

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed May 10 01:00:05 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?
>  "Hamstringed" and "hanged" are other examples that have been nearly
>totally obliterated by "hamstrung" & "hung,"  but this particular  use was
>a new one on me.  Thus my question.  (Given the head & shoulders  in this
>instance, it has an uncomfortably close association with "wrung his neck!")

Agreed, except on "hanged", since there's no denominal derivation
here (the way there is with "ringed", "flied out", and the late,
lamented "hamstringed".  With "hanged", there are just two different
(but related) verbs, originally differentiated by their past tense
but no longer consistently so.  I put those in the same bag with
transitive "shined" (my shoes) vs. intransitive (the sun) "shone",
which also have begun to undifferentiate...


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

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