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Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

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Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with passion. Learn More

Pled versus pleaded

Anyone notice the banishment of “pled” about 5 years or so ago? The newspapers used to say “The defendant pled not guilty.” Suddenly, everything became “pleaded.” I contend that this is an improper imposition of some kind of twisted “grammar correctness,” except it is incorrect. “Pled” is a less emotional word than “pleaded”. I plead when I am begging for something. Unless the defendant is on his knees weeping, he is not pleading, he is entering a plea. In the past tense, he pled, not pleaded. What do you think?

  • July 24, 2009
  • Posted by stan
  • Filed in Usage
  • 29 comments

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@jayles - Meaning?

Warsaw Will May-11-2013

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Jayles is just stating a fallacy, the appeal to popularity, yet he makes another fallacy of his own, one that I call the appeal to obscurity, the fallacy that it is known by a few that it is right.

Jasper May-11-2013

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Whoops, the fallacy that if only a few people know or believe in something, then it is right.

Jasper May-11-2013

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What I meant was to do with the basis of what is okay and good and "plain" English, and what is not so good, or "unplain". It seems to me that in this discussion we need to find some common basis for our criteria, otherwise agreement is impossible.
One of the bases is "what people say/write" - which leads to corpus-based criteria. For instance "quicken" is somewhere in the 10000-15000 range of word frequency lists.
en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:Frequency_lists/PG/2006/04/10001-20000
(see 12200+)
As such it is a word that native and near-native speakers would be expected to know.
Adding the prefix "re-", which is portable, doesn't alter this. I think we agree on this.
However the argument is about whether it is "plain" English, whether it enriches the language and so on; and here we seem to have more subjective criteria.
I am not arguing that shunning latinate words per se makes for "plain" or better English, (although the converse might be true); heavens above, it's really a head-banger trying to say what one wants without using latinates. However as an exercise it has stopped me automatically reaching for the standard phrases ("the herd") and made me use a thesaurus for the first time in my life.
As for "frith", well of course it is an archaic "wind-up"..
"wordstring" is about minting new words: it actually comes from software writing:
stackoverflow.com/questions/16048879/java-lang-nullpointerexception-cant-tell-why (see the first answer).
[word,string,char,text,integer,decimal are all common data types in programming]
I don't see "wordstring" as much different from "a string of words", although the latter usually means an string of excessive lengh. if we can use "multi-word verbs" for "phrasal verbs", why not word-string?
(BTW present perfect continuous is technically a "multi-word verb" so the term doesn't make things any clearer to a Mandaring speaker who doesn't have any L! tenses anyway).
@Jasper no I didn't mean that. Just that we shouldn't disallow new words just because they are new.

jayles May-11-2013

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@WW Business English student: What means "fellow subsidiary"?
Teacher : Well.... (long explanations)
Student: Why don't you just say "sister company" like us?
Teacher: Well, ....er...

Student: Teacher! Teacher! "Multi-" what meaning?
Teacher: It means "many".
Student: Teacher! Why you not say "many", Teacher?

PS I'm eking out the pension with a little teaching again - this time an elem class (ie Chinese- Korean- Tagalog- Hindi-speakers). You may wish me luck!

jayles May-11-2013

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@WW What bugs me sometimes is the "open-door" policy of English - yes I know this gives us lots and lots of words to choose from, but there is a flipside when it comes to non-natives learning English. For example: in Hungarian, town/ciy is "varos", "fo" is head; so the "capital" is "fovaros". It's pretty straightforward. (There many borrowings in Hungarian but quite where they came from is often a mystery, but seldom latin). Meanwhile in English we have the word "capital" (which of course comes from caput capitis a "head" in latin, although one wouldn't know that unless one had learnt latin at school). So whilst the Hungarian word is guessable from its roots the English one is not, (unless one's L1 is romance). So in the end the "open-door" policy leads to a mass of words whose root meanings are obscure. I think we as native speakers just acquire these words their usage as "blanks"; I certainly don't think of "in-fer", "de-fer", "re-fer", "of-fer", "suf-fer" and "pre-fer" as prefix+"fer" meaning to carry, (but nothing to do with "fer-al", "fer-ocious"); whereas in Hungarian and some other languages the roots would be clearer to native speaker and outside learner alike.
It is of course a bit late to change all that or to speculate what English might have been like if Harold Godwinson had fought a bit harder. What is done is done. And in some ways what a fine mongrel tongue we have. And in other ways we still have this lingering part of our culture that often tends to put latinate words in the "high" register, French in the "neutral" register, and the rest is just wot everywun says, like a reflection of the class system that operated in England when I was young.

jayles May-12-2013

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@jayles
First and foremost language is about communication. No, we don't all have to use exactly the same words or word combinations, but if you use other words they need to be understandable. Now, for example, I still don't know exactly what you mean by "wordstring" - phrase, collocation, chunking, and now you say 'coining new words'? And as I wrote Javascript code, I'm perfectly well aware of its programming sense. You seem to think that because I know the component parts I should understand, as in your "requicken", but I don't know what you mean by that either, and I really don't see why I should spend extra effort trying to work out the meanings of words which are just as (if not more) obscure to me as long Latinates. At least I can look Latinates up in a dictionary.

I also think it doesn't show a lot of respect to your fellow speakers to use words they are not likely to understand, for what really comes down to ideological reasons. What other reasons could there be that you feel the need to invent or retool these strange words? Language is a democracy, and certain natural word partnerships have grown up, for example, I might 'quicken my pace', but 'speed up a process'. These natural associations are the basis of corpus linguistics and natural language processing.

Incidentally, "quicken" comes in at 30,926 at Wordcount.org which is based on the British National Corpus. The Wiktionary tables (which I didn't know about and will have to investigate; thanks for that) seem to be based on Project Gutenberg, so are probably a bit more 'literary', not to mention that most books at PG are out of copyright, so more than seventy years old.

http://www.wordcount.org/main.php

Talking of collocations, I have a little compromise to suggest for lunar eclipse - eclipse of the moon. It's not as common as lunar eclipse, but more so than moon eclipse. Although purists will still have the problem of 'eclipse'. Here are some figures for 'lunar eclipse', 'moon eclipse' and 'eclipse of the moon' respectively:

The Guardian - 511, 7, 58
The BBC - 556, 154 , 193
The British National Corpus - 4, 0, 2
Google Books - 145,000, 18,100, 128,000

And here are a couple of my favourite collocation finders -
http://www.netspeak.org/#query=%253F+eclipse
http://www.just-the-word.com/main.pl?word=lunar&combinations=combinations&cdb=thesaurus

Multi-word verb - OK. I hate this term. Why? Because we had a perfectly good system of phrasal verbs divided into four types, which was relatively easy (at least for teachers) to understand. What's more, dictionaries refer to phrasal verbs, there are masses of books on phrasal verbs, but the trendies seem to think that multi-word or multi-part verbs (they can't even make up their minds) are better. If they'd used different names for the four categories (as Wikipedia does), it might not have been so bad. But under the multi-whatever label, only the first two categories are now phrasal verbs, the third being prepositional verbs, and the fourth phrasal-prepositional verbs. Which is bad enough, but nobody seems totally clear as to what verbs the category prepositional verbs includes. I wrote (ranted) about this last year -
http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2011/05/when-is-phrasal-verb-not-phrasal-verb.html

I'm not sure I really get your point about present perfect continuous - do you perhaps mean it's literally a multi word verb, because it consists of several words? It certainly isn't technically a multi-word verb, as it has no particle(s).

But as for the prefix "multi-", it is so common, as are other Latin and Greek prefixes, that it shouldn't be that difficult for students to grasp the meaning once they've come across it once or twice. In any case, "many" is just as foreign for them as "multi".

I also far prefer the term "sister company", but I think you overstate the problem, as the students are likely to have learnt the term "subsidiary" well before they come across the relationship between two subsidiaries. In any case, 'sister company' is by far the more common term - 100:1 on Google, 10:1 on Bloomberg, 300:1 at the FT.

Do you really think only people who studied Latin know that "capital" comes from "head"? I would imagine most native speakers know the difference between "capital punishment" and "corporal punishment". And in any case, while knowing about roots is a fascinating subject, it's hardly necessary for understanding the meaning, is it? You rather proved that with "refer, infer" etc example.

There may be a few people who think long words sound "more intelligent", but I imagine most people judge words on their sound and familiarity, not their derivation. I really think that we have to distinguish between the desire for plain English, which I largely go along with, and language purism based on derivation, which is something completely different.

You say - "It seems to me that in this discussion we need to find some common basis for our criteria, otherwise agreement is impossible.". But there is a possible basis. It's called common sense, and using the everyday English that the vast majority of speakers use, and which sounds natural to the vast majority of native speakers. It's the language used by many (but, unfortunately, not all) the commenters at Pain in the English. You won't please the pedants or the purists, but they are tiny minorities who will never be pleased anyway.

Warsaw Will May-12-2013

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@Warsaw Will - "While many if not most of the inkhorn terms you so despise are still with us, few of the "English" substitutes have survived." OK, I probably overstated the first part, although I stick by the second. I listed "agile" etc as Inkhorn terms, because they are listed as such at a couple of US academic sites, such as Rhode Island College and Towson University.

I accept that we are better off without many, perhaps most, of the words Thomas Wilson lists in his "An ynkehorne letter". But on the other hand, that letter also included "ingenious, capacity, mundane, celebrate, extol, dexterity, illustrate, superiority, fertile, contemplate, invigilate, pastoral, confidence, compendious, relinquish, frivolous, verbosity", only two of which "compendious" and "verbosity" would I baulk at using (in the right context).

Of those "nativist" words put forward by Ralph Lever (eg witcraft for logic, endsay for conclusion, foresay for premise), few have survived. And as Micheal Quinlon at World Wide Words says "Whatever the reason for success or failure of new words, this extraordinary period of inventiveness and adaptation enriched English with many hundreds of new terms."

Later purist writers don't seem to have been any more successful in persuading us to use their "simpler" equivalents, whether Nathaniel Fairfax (1674) - (eg bodiless for immaterial, middlekin for medium, thingsomeness for reality’) or William Barnes (starlore for astronomy and speechcraft for grammar). Although I accept that Barnes' poetry has a lot of merit, his invented words didn't really catch on.

http://www.ric.edu/faculty/rpotter/inkhorn.html
http://www.english.illinois.edu/-people-/faculty/debaron/403/403%20emne/inkhorn.html
http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/inkhorn.htm

Warsaw Will May-12-2013

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Inkhorn terms - for anyone interested, there is also quite a lengthy discussion in "Early Modern English", by Charles Laurence Barber, much of which is available at Google: http://books.google.pl/books?id=Iat4Bk_YeR4C&pg=PA56

Warsaw Will May-12-2013

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this "pled" v "pleaded" v "plead" (past tense and pronounced 'pled')
thread having strayed faaaaar afield of the specific words and usages
for which I signed up, I'm outta here. Farewell.

Justice Jim May-12-2013

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@Justice Jim - sorry! But I think the "pled" "pleaded" thing did get pretty well discussed before we got diverted. There aren't many of these threads that go "into the grey".

Warsaw Will May-12-2013

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@JusticeJim ... True ... It's time for WW, Jayles, and I to take this back to the Anglish thread if we wish to keep talking about it.

AnWulf May-25-2013

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It's time for WW, Jayles, and I to take this back to the Anglish thread if we wish to keep talking about it. ?? Oh no, something wrong here, surely?
It's time for { WW, Jayles, and } I to take this back to the Anglish thread if we wish to keep talking about it. ?? Take out the others ...
It's time for I to take this back to the Anglish thread if we wish to keep talking about it. ?! That's what's wrong: time for I ??
It's time for me I to take this back to the Anglish thread if we wish to keep talking about it.
Me, not I, after preposition 'for'. Put the others back in:
It's time for WW, Jayles, and me I to take this back to the Anglish thread if we wish to keep talking about it.

Brus May-25-2013

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Go back to the Anglish page? You must be joking! That page is the private domain of the Saxon Brotherhood, and woe betide any visitors who don't share their views. In my case, it's a case of thrice bitten, four times shy, I'm afraid.

Warsaw Will May-26-2013

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I guess it depends on where you were raised and the language you learnt (learned) in. I was born and raised in England, therefore I learnt the "Real' English language which is pleaded. I then moved to Canada in my 30's and horror, the word "plead" (pronounced pled) came into my earshot. I guess the Americans, who "borrowed" the language 200 years ago and then screwed around with it.....and then tell everyone that anything but American English is wrong....well, they have the problem don't they? While I'm at it.....another thing that irritates the heck out of me is the American English's use of "off of" (example "take it off of the table") is a completely misused and redundant form of language. Obviously, it is "take it off the table". Anyone who learnt English as a child surely knows that!

Limey Pat Jun-12-2013

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@Limey Pat - firstly, there's nothing wrong with a bit of redundancy in spoken language. Secondly, does 'get those things off of the table' involve any more redundancy then 'get those things out of the car'. You're used to the second, so no doubt don't think about it that way, but is that 'of' really necessary there either?

Just because Americans use constructions that you and I weren't brought up with doesn't make them grammatically wrong. Just as Americans shouldn't jump to the conclusion that constructions that Brits use are wrong simply because they are unfamiliar with them.

As for the idea that 'pled' resulted from Americans 'screwing around' with 'our' language, that is just nonsense, as the Oxford English Dictionary has an example of “pled” from Edmund Spenser in 1596. What's more, as has been pointed out, it is used mainly in a legal sense, not only in North America, but also in Scotland.

Warsaw Will Jun-12-2013

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@Limey Pat ... WW is spot on. BTW, "off of" isn't an Americanism. The OED finds it as far back as ME c1450.

From Shakespeare's Henry VI, part 2, Act II: Simpcox: A fall off of a tree.

And let's not forget the Rolling Stones' "Get Off Of My Cloud"!

Think of pleaded > pled as going from goeth > goes. Things change!

AnWulf Jun-14-2013

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@WW ... Yes, I think "spot on" is more British but I did hav a British neighbor for a while so maybe I pick'd it up from him.

There are many reasons why some verbs that one might think should be strong (stem change) rather than weak (-ed).

It could be that heed, seed, and weed would sound like other word ... hed (head), sed (said), wed. Truthfully, for seed, it was a noun that became a verb so which wontedly leads to a weak verb. Need seems to also hav been a noun (neod) before becoming a verb ((ge)neodian ... shows up in Late OE).

Knead in OE was a strong verb ... past tense of "cnæd". Indeed, in some dialects it is "knodden" ... http://books.google.com.ar/books?id=GKHNBlT3wfsC&pg=PA98&dq=knodden&hl=en&sa=X&ei=lqfxUf65BoGjigKzloGgAg&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=knodden&f=false

AnWulf Jul-25-2013

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Is it he bleeded to death or he bled to death?

Richard619 Aug-30-2013

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I agree with our original poster, Stan, that "pleaded" is sub-standard English. It grates on my nerves every time I hear it, and since my major television channels all come out of Youngstown, Ohio--a city known for its high crime rate--I get to hear "the defendent 'pleaded' not guilty" several times every day. I think this comes in part from the abandonment of the King James Version of the Bible in most churches. I'm 60 now, so when I was young, the KJV was all we had, and it was roundly praised as a model of elegant English, even if it was archaic in some of its phrasing, and took some work to understand. As we struggled with the older form, we learned elegance. Now, even our scriptures are written on a newspaper level, and we suffer for that. Even the "word of God" now sounds like something written by a journalistic hack.

I have no problem with using modern Bible versions, but I do miss the elegance that used to grace the written word. Go back and read "Gone With The Wind," "The Song of Bernadette," or "The Lord of the Rings," and you'll find vastly different usage. Sometimes it can be over-wordy, but if you keep at it, you'll be struck by the beauty. We're losing that, and "pleaded" is just one more example of how far our language has fallen.

Rosewood11 Aug-30-2013

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@Rosewood11 You might wish to take a look at the "anglish" blog on this selfsame websheet, wherein, amidst much wailing and gnashing of teeth, your KJV-standpoint would be most welcomely brooked.

jayles Aug-31-2013

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@Rosewood11 - one small problem, 'pled' doesn't appear in the KJV, whereas 'pleaded' does, three times, two of which could be likened to the legal sense.

Blessed be the LORD, that hath pleaded the cause of my reproach - Samuel 25:3
O LORD, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; - Lamentations 3:58
Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt - Ezekiel 20:36

http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/search.php?q=pleaded&hs=1

Warsaw Will Aug-31-2013

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only in Amerika.................!

A Smith Oct-03-2013

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I am old school, and am apalled by the pronounciation and spelling of the english language as printed in our daily newspapers.
Supposedly, reporters are university graduates and educated people, but the constant use of incorrect words and spelling makes one wonder if the degree came in a cereal packet.
A classic case is when a personwho was on bail has it extended by the court (judge or magistrate), the reporter usually writes "the bail was enlarged".
I rest my case

Poppa Bear Oct-25-2013

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I hate to say it but there is no reason to hate either form. 'pleaded' is actually older. This word comes from French so was not irregular when borrowed. It came to be pronounced 'pled' in some contexts after analogy with 'read.' Now that I've said that, I want to be clear I don't advocate a particular form. Let people speak how they want. 'Pled' is fine. It is completely untrue that people read or write worse than the generation before t hem. Language and spelling naturally change over time. Since language has existed, these complaints have existed. And no, it does not mean you are smarter than young people. You are just pretentious, old or both.

Leo Marino May-07-2015

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The verb "plead" has 2 meanings. One meaning is similar to "beg;" She pleaded for leniency, or I pleaded to the principal on my child's behalf. This verb needs an object.

The secondary (less common, legal) meaning is "to make a statement about the facts" Ex: He pled not guilty. The officer pled his ignorance on the matter. Or the fixed expression "He pled the fifth." This is the only sense where "entered a plea of" could be synonymous. This is a stative verb.

For the first meaning, the past form is "pleaded (for / to)." For the secondary (legal) meaning, the past tense form is "pled."

I did legal work for many years in the US, and I currently teach English. This is my informed opinion, and I'm sticking to it - although I really don't care which term people use.

Kiki Apr-02-2016

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@Sombody123

Yep, just like speed limits and taxes.

user106928 Apr-17-2016

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Pleaded is correct grammar, pled is what sounds more pleasing to the ear because it's been used for so long, mainly by American journalist. But in the past few years we've found it being replaced with pleaded, as the main authorities on grammar say it's the correct choice.

Braindabrian Apr-18-2016

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