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Well Hung

July 16th, 2004 · 1 Comment

Another linguistic question I’ve been running through my mind.  The word “hang” seems unusual in that its past tense in common usage is different depending on which meaning one intends—the method of execution or the more general act of suspending something in the air.  So I hung the photo on my wall, but we hanged the cattle rustler.  Can anyone think of other words like that, where a word with multiple meanings takes different inflected forms depending which is intended?  I feel certain there are others, but I can’t bring any to mind just now.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Anton Sherwood // Jun 25, 2005 at 7:46 pm

    Some words are irregular in their literal sense but regular in a common metaphoric sense; Pinker in (i think) Words and Rules goes on at length about this.