Incorrection

Hanged vs. hung came up today on ADS-L, so I quoted from MWDEU‘s nice entry on the subject, with this admirable (and somewhat testy) conclusion:

The distinction between hanged and hung is not an especially useful one (although a few commentators claim otherwise). It is, however, a simple one and certainly easy to remember. Therein lies its popularity. If you make a point of observing the distinction in your writing, you will not thereby become a better writer, but you will spare yourself the annoyance of being corrected for having done something that is not wrong.

That is, the annoyance of being incorrected, a k a miscorrrected.

An earlier summary of the usage facts in the entry:

Our evidence shows that hung for hanged  [‘executed by hanging’] is certainly not an error. Educated speakers and writers use it commonly and have for many years [with examples going back 100 years]

Now for an inventory of some postings on incorrection / miscorrection (from Language Log except as noted):

ML, 3/3/07: Why are so many linguistic corrections incorrect? (link)

William Safire closed out 2006 with a column entitled “Incorrections“, in which he defines incorrection as “a correction that is itself incorrect”. [with examples from earlier LLog postings]

AZ, 3/3/07: Self-incorrection (link)

In the simplest cases, the advice is to replace a correct variant that is falsely believed to be incorrect by another, also correct, variant; Mark’s example was the advice to replace entitled by titled in examples like “a column entitled ‘Incorrections'” [the hanged/hung case is of this sort].  In more advanced cases, the advice is to avoid a correct variant, which can lead to self-editing in which the end product is a variant that is awkward, unfortunately ambiguous in a way the original was not, etc.  In the worst cases, the advice can lead to self-editing in favor of things that are just flat unacceptable in the intended sense (or even in any sense at all).

ML, 8/25/07: Prepositional anxiety and Voldemort’s wand (link): on incorrection of stranded P

BZ, 7/21/08: Now presenting… Muphry’s Law (link)

So Dubner falls more into line with the examples discussed by Mark Liberman in his post, “Why are so many linguistic corrections incorrect?” Mark borrows the term “incorrection” from William Safire (“a correction that is itself incorrect”), but Coby Lubliner has argued that “miscorrection” is a better term for this phenomenon (which has come up so often in our posts on the Cupertino effect).

AZBlog, 5/9/10: Analogies I: Zippy and Lewis Carroll (link)

GP, 12/3/10: Stupid less/fewer automatism at the WSJ (link)

AZBlog, 7/20/12: with whom (link)

(Postings on Cupertinos make up an entire separate, and very large, category.)

One Response to “Incorrection”

  1. Incorrections Says:

    Reblogged this on Incorrections.

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