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Hanged if I know!

Posted by Smokey Stover on November 14, 2003

In Reply to: Hang on! posted by Lewis on November 14, 2003

: : : : : : Only game is 'hung'. The correct term is hanged, forgive me for being a pedant.

: : : : :
: : : : : Pedants should always ensure that they do the necessary research and are well informed otherwise they appear foolish.

: : : : "The stockings were hanged by the window with care...."?

: : : We had a little discussion on this elsewhere.

: : I wonder if this is one of those instances when American English uses a verb form that isn't often used in the UK? For some reason, I'm thinking American English often retains the older form. Off the top of my head (and before caffeine) I'm thinking of swim, swam, swum. I know 'hanged' is preferred for people in standard English but I'm curious about the fact that 'hung, drawn and quartered' is the phrase we seem to use. Any thoughts? I think Bill Bryson discusses this in Made in America or Mother Tongue. I'll try to look it up today.

: : Camelita
: : Who is departing for London tomorrow (Oh joy!)

: the expression "hung, drawn and quartered" is well-established whether it is grammatically correct or not. The sentence was a horrible punishment - first, the person was hanged/hung up by the neck until almost dead - then revived only to have their belly slashed open and their intestines pulled out before their own eyes. When they were about dead (and I'm not sure they had to be), the punishers would chop them up into 4 quarters with a limb on each. I think they also would lop off the head and display it, which meant that there were 5 'quarters'. I'm not sure if the genital mutilation bit was done under the heading of 'drawn' but if you are going in for extreme cruelty, then you might as well go the whole hog.

: I think it would now count as "inhuman or degrading punishment".

: : I like to look informed by quoting the OED Online (Oxford English Dictionary). It says that for Sense 3 (capital punishment by hanging) "Hanged is now the specific form of the past tense and past participle; though hung is used by some . . . ." Among their citations they quote, from the London Times, "Beef, Sir, is hung, men are hanged". Although disembowelment was a great sport among judicial and other sadists, "drawn and quartered" is accomplished by attaching horses (or even elephants) to the four limbs and them having them pull the victim apart. This was done, of course, while the victim was still alive (to begin with). Whether or not the body tended to separate into quarters, or just a limbless torso, I know not. In "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" a motorcycle gang of vampires draw and quarter with their motorcycles the Buffy-bot (a robot formed like Buffy).