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  #1  
Old 02-28-2013, 03:33 PM
Groucho Twain Groucho Twain is offline
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A grammar pet peeve: Hanged vs. Hung

This has been popping up in popular media (I tend toward the dark and macabre, like The Walking Dead, etc.:

(paraphrasing)
"We executed the prisoner last night. He was hung at 12 midnight."

I was taught that people are hanged and objects are hung, as in, "The well-hung prisoner was hanged at midnight."

So, what's your grammar pet peeve?
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  #2  
Old 02-28-2013, 03:51 PM
freckafree freckafree is offline
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That one bugs me, too.

I get irritated with people who don't understand how to use the reflexive pronoun "myself." It seems as though the pronoun "me" is out of vogue or seen as uncouth or something, which also leads to such constructions as "between you and I."
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  #3  
Old 02-28-2013, 03:52 PM
tdn tdn is offline
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I made three phone calls this morning, and filled out a web form, requesting to get some pictures hung in my office.

That was cromulent, right?
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  #4  
Old 02-28-2013, 03:52 PM
Inner Stickler Inner Stickler is offline
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People who don't close their parentheses.

Yes, I know it's not actually a grammar peeve.

Last edited by Inner Stickler; 02-28-2013 at 03:53 PM.. Reason: parantheses? Dunno what that is.
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  #5  
Old 02-28-2013, 03:57 PM
tdn tdn is offline
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Originally Posted by Inner Stickler View Post
People who don't close their parentheses.
Or quotes. Or don't do nested quotes correctly.

"You know what she said to me? She said "That dude said "Get bent, bitch."
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  #6  
Old 02-28-2013, 04:13 PM
standingwave standingwave is online now
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The word “it’s” is the contraction for “it is” and not to be confused with “its”, which forms the possessive noun. It's a wise dog that scratches its own fleas.
I can forgive it on message boards and even the occasional email but I'm beginning to see this slipping into once respected publications and it's driving me nuts.
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  #7  
Old 02-28-2013, 04:27 PM
Groucho Twain Groucho Twain is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdn View Post
I made three phone calls this morning, and filled out a web form, requesting to get some pictures hung in my office.

That was cromulent, right?
Usage cromulent, level of bureaucracy quite incromulent.
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  #8  
Old 02-28-2013, 04:28 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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I don't mind 'hung' if it's a semi-literate outlaw character in a western saying it.

My pet language peeve at the moment is: advertising slogans that don't even parse.

For example: Rimmel (London cosmetics maker) has a mascara product, the slogan for which is:
"Lash Accelerator - Endless Lashes so limitless, they defy length"

I don't mind them abusing the terms 'endless' and 'limitless' as an exaggeration for 'quite long'

I have a problem with 'so limitless'. To my mind, there aren't degress of limitless-ness.

I have a big problem with "they defy length". What the hell would that mean if it was English?
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  #9  
Old 02-28-2013, 04:30 PM
Groucho Twain Groucho Twain is offline
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Originally Posted by Inner Stickler View Post
People who don't close their parentheses.

Yes, I know it's not actually a grammar peeve.
(I'm keeping my eye on you.
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  #10  
Old 02-28-2013, 04:36 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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Charlie: They said you was hung.
Bart: And they was right.


Mel Brooks knows grammar.
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  #11  
Old 02-28-2013, 04:36 PM
Inner Stickler Inner Stickler is offline
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Stop that.
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  #12  
Old 02-28-2013, 04:40 PM
conway conway is offline
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Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
I have a big problem with "they defy length". What the hell would that mean if it was English?
Length is all like, what up you better stop and the lashes are like hell no bitch.
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  #13  
Old 02-28-2013, 04:40 PM
Absolute Absolute is offline
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I lean prescriptivist in most other grammar issues, but I despise the word "hanged". It is the only past tense in the English language that is subject-specific, and there is no good reason why it should be so. It is a completely useless, arbitrary and pointless rule.

What other verb has a different past tense depending on the subject? None that I'm aware of. It's not as if there is any subtle difference in meaning or possibility of confusion. The distinction serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever.

As far as I'm concerned, all it is useful for is allowing certain people to obnoxiously correct others whenever the opportunity arises. "No, he wasn't hung, he was haaannnnggedd...", usually said in a particularly pathetic and whiny tone of voice.
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  #14  
Old 02-28-2013, 04:47 PM
Jackknifed Juggernaut Jackknifed Juggernaut is offline
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Originally Posted by freckafree View Post
That one bugs me, too.

I get irritated with people who don't understand how to use the reflexive pronoun "myself." It seems as though the pronoun "me" is out of vogue or seen as uncouth or something, which also leads to such constructions as "between you and I."
I've noticed this is extremely common on dating websites. More often than not, the girl's picture will be titled "My Sister and I" or "My Friends and I", instead of "...and me"
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  #15  
Old 02-28-2013, 04:53 PM
Jackknifed Juggernaut Jackknifed Juggernaut is offline
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As far as "hanged" goes, does it only apply if it was a successful hanging? Can I correctly say, "He was hanged, but the rope broke and he survived?" Also, what if you're not referring to the execution, but just literally the hanging itself? eg. "He was hung by his neck on a coiled rope and he died as a result."
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  #16  
Old 02-28-2013, 04:55 PM
Absolute Absolute is offline
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Originally Posted by Absolute View Post
It is a completely useless, arbitrary and pointless rule.
Actually, it is not even a rule. "Rule" implies some broader applicability. It is just an exception that exists for that one particular usage of that one particular word, for no purpose whatsoever.

Quote:
I get irritated with people who don't understand how to use the reflexive pronoun "myself." It seems as though the pronoun "me" is out of vogue or seen as uncouth or something, which also leads to such constructions as "between you and I."
It's because someone once corrected them for saying "My sister and me went to the store", and now they have overcompensated by never saying the word "me" in any context.

Last edited by Absolute; 02-28-2013 at 04:56 PM..
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  #17  
Old 02-28-2013, 05:14 PM
cochrane cochrane is offline
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Hung is equally correct.

Quote:
usage

For both transitive and intransitive senses 1b the past and past participle hung, as well as hanged, is standard. Hanged is most appropriate for official executions <he was to be hanged, cut down whilst still alive … and his bowels torn out — Louis Allen> but hung is also used <gave orders that she should be hung — Peter Quennell>. Hung is more appropriate for less formal hangings <by morning I'll be hung in effigy — Ronald Reagan>.
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  #18  
Old 02-28-2013, 05:20 PM
Groucho Twain Groucho Twain is offline
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Originally Posted by cochrane View Post
Hung is equally correct.
Well, I'll be danged! Or...dung! Or both!
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  #19  
Old 02-28-2013, 05:21 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is online now
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They said you was dung.

Last edited by Ludovic; 02-28-2013 at 05:21 PM..
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  #20  
Old 02-28-2013, 05:22 PM
california jobcase california jobcase is online now
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I swear I learned hanged and hung work like rang and rung. Examples: He rang the bells, and he had rung them earlier. He hanged the new picture where the old one was hung before.

Maybe I just imagined that I learned that back in school. In my opinion, it should work that way and I don't see any reason why it shouldn't.

Last edited by california jobcase; 02-28-2013 at 05:23 PM..
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  #21  
Old 02-28-2013, 05:25 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Originally Posted by Absolute View Post
What other verb has a different past tense depending on the subject? None that I'm aware of. It's not as if there is any subtle difference in meaning or possibility of confusion. The distinction serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever.
First, do you mean "subject" or "object"? Wouldn't the subject be who's doing the hanging?

Second, I think there is a difference in meaning. If you're hanging an outlaw vs. hanging a set of drapes, you're not performing the exact same action but only on different objects; you're performing two essentially different actions. One's an act of execution, the other of decoration.
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  #22  
Old 02-28-2013, 05:34 PM
Asimovian Asimovian is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
I have a big problem with "they defy length". What the hell would that mean if it was English?
I took it to mean "immeasurable." Which is not to say that I think it's a particularly intelligent phrasing. But I feel like I get what they were going for.
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  #23  
Old 02-28-2013, 06:24 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
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Advertising is a whole maelstrom of linguistic nonsense.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Absolute View Post
I lean prescriptivist in most other grammar issues, but I despise the word "hanged". It is the only past tense in the English language that is subject-specific, and there is no good reason why it should be so. It is a completely useless, arbitrary and pointless rule.
lay/laid, perhaps? I never quite could grok that one.

Mine showed up in my daughter's homework tonight: "How do the different settings in the Cinderella stories effect the story?"

stabstabstabstab
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  #24  
Old 02-28-2013, 06:37 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
lay/laid, perhaps? I never quite could grok that one.
"Lay" and "laid" aren't past tenses of the same verb. "Lay" is the past tense of "lie" (the intransitive verb meaning to rest, recline, or remain), while "laid" is the past tense of "lay" (the transitive verb meaning "to set or place (something)." To add to the confusion, many people use the latter verb when the former is grammatically appropriate (as in "I'm going to lay [sic] down for a while").

"Lay" and "lied" are both past tenses of "to lie," but I think those "lie"s count as different words.

Last edited by Thudlow Boink; 02-28-2013 at 06:38 PM..
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  #25  
Old 02-28-2013, 06:54 PM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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"Aren't I?" It's grammatically correct. It's just. . . not right. But it's all we have.
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  #26  
Old 02-28-2013, 07:15 PM
Left Hand of Dorkness Left Hand of Dorkness is online now
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Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
First, do you mean "subject" or "object"? Wouldn't the subject be who's doing the hanging?
I don't think so. The subject of a verb in the passive voice is that who has it done to. "The criminal was hung. Who did the hanging? The executioner hung him." All the underlined words are subjects.
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  #27  
Old 02-28-2013, 07:16 PM
rsat3acr rsat3acr is online now
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Using first with no second. He just hit his first home run of the season. Until he hits another this season it is his only home run of the season.

incorrect comparisons. Our new product is better than ever. No it is better than ever before, now is part of ever so it can't be better than it is.
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  #28  
Old 02-28-2013, 07:27 PM
Left Hand of Dorkness Left Hand of Dorkness is online now
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My pet peeve is people who don't understand that language is idiomatic, not generated by logic gates. "I couldn't care less," "better than ever," "literally" meant as "really," and so on are totally fine usages, if you're a human being and not an android.
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  #29  
Old 02-28-2013, 07:41 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Originally Posted by rsat3acr View Post
Using first with no second. He just hit his first home run of the season. Until he hits another this season it is his only home run of the season.
Really? You can have a "first" in a series of one. It also happens to be the last. And the only.

There is nothing wrong with "first" in this usage. Do you also complain about somebody celebrating their "first wedding" anniversary. What if they get divorced in a month?

Last edited by pulykamell; 02-28-2013 at 07:43 PM..
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Old 02-28-2013, 07:44 PM
rsat3acr rsat3acr is online now
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
Really? You can have a "first" in a series of one. It also happens to be the last. And the only.

There is nothing wrong with "first" in this usage. Do you also complain about somebody celebrating their "first wedding" anniversary. What if they get divorced in a month?
I stand corrected, thanks. Still sounds wrong to me however.
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  #31  
Old 02-28-2013, 07:45 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
First, do you mean "subject" or "object"? Wouldn't the subject be who's doing the hanging?

Second, I think there is a difference in meaning. If you're hanging an outlaw vs. hanging a set of drapes, you're not performing the exact same action but only on different objects; you're performing two essentially different actions. One's an act of execution, the other of decoration.
No, it is the subject of a passive mode verb, but still the subject.

Between you and I, my pet peeve is people who don't know when to use "me" (and other oblique pronouns). I read somewhere that even Shakespeare did this on occasion.
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  #32  
Old 02-28-2013, 07:51 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Originally Posted by rsat3acr View Post
I stand corrected, thanks. Still sounds wrong to me however.
I mean, yeah, I don't want to refer to my wife as my "first wife." But it's not technically incorrect. "First homerun of the season," though, doesn't set off any bells for me.

ETA: And my original post should have read "first wedding anniversary," not "first wedding" anniversary.

Last edited by pulykamell; 02-28-2013 at 07:52 PM..
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  #33  
Old 02-28-2013, 08:10 PM
InternetLegend InternetLegend is offline
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The "effect/affect" thing gets to me, as does the rampant confusion between "discreet" and "discrete".
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  #34  
Old 02-28-2013, 11:00 PM
Senegoid Senegoid is offline
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Originally Posted by Absolute View Post
What other verb has a different past tense depending on the subject? None that I'm aware of. It's not as if there is any subtle difference in meaning or possibility of confusion. The distinction serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever.
(Setting aside the quibble over whether it's the subject or the object that matters...)
For a long time I thought the same question about "found" and "founded", as in:
"The explorer found a continent and then he founded a city there."
I only figured this one out recently, like within the past year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackknifed Juggernaut View Post
I've noticed this is extremely common on dating websites. More often than not, the girl's picture will be titled "My Sister and I" or "My Friends and I", instead of "...and me"
A phrase like "my friends and I/me" might be correct with either "I" or "me" depending on where it's used in a sentence:
-- My friends and I went to a movie.
-- Sam met my friends and me there.
If it's just a picture title, like "My Sister and I", I don't know why either "I" or "me" would be better, since it's just a phrase, not a whole sentence. So it's not truly either a subject nor an object.

Similarly, the much-maligned phrase "Us Tareyton smokers" might actually be right, depending on how it's used, yet a generation of TV viewers got it beaten (beated?) into our heads that we should NEVER use "us" in a phrase like this.

Wrong: "Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch." (Should be "We Tareyton smokers...")
Right: "Please sell a pack of Tareytons to us Tareyton smokers."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl Snake-Hips Tucker View Post
"Aren't I?" It's grammatically correct. It's just. . . not right. But it's all we have.
Not really. "Aren't" is a contraction of "Are not".
"Aren't I" would mean, then, "Are not I" ( == Are I not ), which clearly should be "Am I not".
But we don't have a good contraction for "am not" (Amn't I?), so we colloquially say "Aren't I", but that really ain't cromulent.

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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
There is nothing wrong with "first" in this usage. Do you also complain about somebody celebrating their "first wedding" anniversary. What if they get divorced in a month?
  • That's right.
  • Hi, Opal.
  • Hi, Opal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by InternetLegend View Post
The "effect/affect" thing gets to me, as does the rampant confusion between "discreet" and "discrete".
My area of confusion: Is there a difference between "complete" and "compleat"? Is one of these non-cromulent?

Last edited by Senegoid; 02-28-2013 at 11:01 PM..
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  #35  
Old 02-28-2013, 11:14 PM
shijinn shijinn is offline
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Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
My pet peeve is people who don't understand that language is idiomatic, not generated by logic gates. "I couldn't care less," ...
argh, "I could care less" needs to die in a fire. it does not reflect well on the language to have both the positive and negative of the same construction of a phrase to mean the same thing!
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  #36  
Old 02-28-2013, 11:17 PM
Nzinga, Seated Nzinga, Seated is offline
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Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
"Lay" and "laid" aren't past tenses of the same verb. "Lay" is the past tense of "lie" (the intransitive verb meaning to rest, recline, or remain), while "laid" is the past tense of "lay" (the transitive verb meaning "to set or place (something)." To add to the confusion, many people use the latter verb when the former is grammatically appropriate (as in "I'm going to lay [sic] down for a while").

"Lay" and "lied" are both past tenses of "to lie," but I think those "lie"s count as different words.
Can I say, "I'm going to lay my body down?" I hope so, because that is a very bluesy thing to say, and I do like to be bluesy sometimes.
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  #37  
Old 02-28-2013, 11:20 PM
EmilyG EmilyG is offline
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John Wing said:

"If you're dangling at the end of a rope, you're hanged, and if you have a large organ... you work in a church."
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  #38  
Old 02-28-2013, 11:27 PM
Inner Stickler Inner Stickler is offline
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argh, "I could care less" needs to die in a fire. it does not reflect well on the language to have both the positive and negative of the same construction of a phrase to mean the same thing!
I could give a damn but I couldn't give a damn.

You're really going to flip when you learn about contranyms. My favorite is with. Britain fought with Germany in World War II and Britain fought with America in World War II mean totally different things.
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  #39  
Old 02-28-2013, 11:39 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Originally Posted by shijinn View Post
argh, "I could care less" needs to die in a fire. it does not reflect well on the language to have both the positive and negative of the same construction of a phrase to mean the same thing!
Nah...it's idiomatic. I like it, and vote to keep it. I'm sure I'll be outvoted on this Board, but, thankfully, this Board doesn't make language decisions.
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:42 PM
An Gadaí An Gadaí is offline
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Becoming boats, how can you become a boat?
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Old 03-01-2013, 01:09 AM
shijinn shijinn is offline
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Originally Posted by Inner Stickler View Post
I could give a damn but I couldn't give a damn.

You're really going to flip when you learn about contranyms. My favorite is with. Britain fought with Germany in World War II and Britain fought with America in World War II mean totally different things.
for some reason that does not bother me at all. the so called idiom, however, brings my reading to a halt as my mind revolts against the abomination and insists on adding a "not" to the phrase.
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  #42  
Old 03-01-2013, 01:11 AM
Senegoid Senegoid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inner Stickler View Post
I could give a damn but I couldn't give a damn.

You're really going to flip when you learn about contranyms. My favorite is with. Britain fought with Germany in World War II and Britain fought with America in World War II mean totally different things.
I got a taste of this in high school French class (in Hawaii), circa 1968. We had to read a very abridged version of La Tulipe Noire. There was some passage in there about somebody being angry with somebody else.

But in the phrase [somebody was] angry with [somebody], the French word for "with" was "contra".

The teacher explained that "contra" usually means "against", but in this case it means "with".

I thought the French had it right the first time. Saying somebody is "angry against" someone actually makes a lot more sense that saying somebody is "angry with" someone.
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  #43  
Old 03-01-2013, 01:58 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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Originally Posted by Asimovian View Post
I took it to mean "immeasurable." Which is not to say that I think it's a particularly intelligent phrasing. But I feel like I get what they were going for.
I imagine they wanted to say "lashes so long that they defy measurement", but realised that if the statement made sense, it would represent a claim that people might expect to be true.
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  #44  
Old 03-01-2013, 02:30 AM
Stealth Potato Stealth Potato is offline
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Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
Second, I think there is a difference in meaning. If you're hanging an outlaw vs. hanging a set of drapes, you're not performing the exact same action but only on different objects; you're performing two essentially different actions. One's an act of execution, the other of decoration.
I'd say the real distinction is that "to hang," in the sense of hanging drapes, is a different word from "to hang," in the sense of stringing someone up. This is seen by the observable fact that they use different lexemes for one of the inflections in their respective paradigms, despite being homonymic in all their other forms.

The natures of the action, subjects, or objects used in the sentence don't inform any kind of syntactic "rule" about hung vs. hanged -- to suppose so unpardonably conflates syntax with semantics. Instead, they indicate which of the two words can be sensibly used in a sentence that would be understood by other English speakers. Although as cochrane pointed out, the verb whose preterite is written "hung" is fine to use for both types of action.

(And "hung" in the sense of "having a large penis" is a separate word, being an adjective and not a verb.)
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  #45  
Old 03-01-2013, 05:16 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
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Originally Posted by shijinn View Post
argh, "I could care less" needs to die in a fire. it does not reflect well on the language to have both the positive and negative of the same construction of a phrase to mean the same thing!
It does, really, it does. The problem is, I can't decide if it's flammable or inflammable...
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  #46  
Old 03-01-2013, 06:45 AM
Left Hand of Dorkness Left Hand of Dorkness is online now
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Originally Posted by shijinn View Post
argh, "I could care less" needs to die in a fire. it does not reflect well on the language to have both the positive and negative of the same construction of a phrase to mean the same thing!
You must think you're pretty hot, huh? Or maybe you're cool.

Or, to address it more directly, do you think you're accurately understanding why the idiom works? Yeahhhh....SURE you are. No, you're not.

When there's a positive and negative of the same construction of a phrase to mean the same thing, there's a pretty good chance that one of the constructions is sarcastic.
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  #47  
Old 03-01-2013, 06:53 AM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Originally Posted by Nzinga, Seated View Post
Can I say, "I'm going to lay my body down?"
That's perfectly grammatically correct (not that that's required for bluesiness), as is "Now I lay me down to sleep." In both cases you're laying something; there's an object to the verb.
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  #48  
Old 03-01-2013, 08:08 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
When there's a positive and negative of the same construction of a phrase to mean the same thing, there's a pretty good chance that one of the constructions is sarcastic.
That is Steven Pinker's take on the phrase. I'm not sure I completely agree, but he's right that the intonation of "I could care less" is generally different from a straight reading. Most often, it's "I could CARE LESS," with a drawn out "care" and "less." That said, I've heard it with a straight intonation, and I'm not convinced it's an intentionally sarcastic phrase, either. I don't think it matters, idiom is idiom, there's no need to justify it or make sense of it.

While searching for the original quote, here is one critique of Pinker's view that it is sarcastic intonation.
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Old 03-01-2013, 08:11 AM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
That said, I've heard it with a straight intonation, and I'm not convinced it's an intentionally sarcastic phrase, either.
I think people who say it that way are just being careless.
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Old 03-01-2013, 08:15 AM
stpauler stpauler is offline
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I should of never opened this thread.
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