1. The WordReference Forums have moved to new forum software. (Details)

Past tense of "Swing"

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Sarasaki, Aug 22, 2007.

  1. Sarasaki Senior Member

    Bangalore
    India - English & Kannada
    According to me, the past tense of swing is "swung" but my daughter's teacher told her its "swang" :confused:

    Can anyone out there tell me which is correct? "Swang" is a bit archaic dont you think?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. stezza Banned

    english italian
    swing swang swung

    There seems to be a tendency in contemporary English (particularly in AE) to eschew the simple past form and adopt instead the participial form as the simple past.

    Take for example the name of the movie: Honey, I shrunk the kids, where shrunk (the participial form) has taken the place of shrank (the simple past form).
     
  3. Sarasaki Senior Member

    Bangalore
    India - English & Kannada
    Thanks a million for your quick reply. But I must admit that I cannot find any reference to "swang" anywhere on the net or in my dictionary at home. Is this "adoption of participial form" a AE thing only? We in India owe our English to the British....so is there a BE point of view on this one?

    And I continue to "swing" between "swang" and "swung".....Help!!!!
     
  4. zonebreaker New Member

    English
    The past tense of swing is swung, as is the past participle.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2008
  5. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I'd never used swang before so was surprised to see it mentioned. But you are right. There is no swang, according to the Cobuild Dictionary. It is not standard AE either: no swang in the Websters.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2008
  6. El escoces Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    English - UK
    http://www.wordwebonline.com/en/SWING According to this - admittedly not terribly authoritative - swang is an option, and one I admit to using from time to time. "I swang the bat as hard as I could"; "The monkey swang from the branch". But I would also use "swung", both in place of "swang", and obviously in passive voice ("the bat was swung with considerable force" and so on).
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2008
  7. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Even if there were a "swang" version, it seems so rarely used as to be a prime candidate for "regularization" because it doesn't "sound right"!
    Here is a discussion of how irregular verbs change over time. The abstract contains the following "We study how the rate of regularization depends on the frequency of word usage. The half-life of an irregular verb scales as the square root of its usage frequency: a verb that is 100 times less frequent regularizes 10 times as fast. Our study provides a quantitative analysis of the regularization process by which ancestral forms gradually yield to an emerging linguistic rule."
     
  8. El escoces Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    English - UK
    In a Google search I did however find the New York Observor using the expression "This is why estimates of Mr Ferrer's support have swang wildly from poll to poll.." which I think is just plain wrong! There is no doubt that "swung" is the correct participle, regardless of your view on the other point.
     
  9. El escoces Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    English - UK
    It's all relative of course - if you use "swang", it won't sound particularly strange; if you don't normally use it, it will probably sound odd. I accept the role of one's "ear" in helping to determine whether something is right or wrong, but it's not infallible.
     
  10. losilmer

    losilmer Senior Member

    Infinitive -- to swing

    Past tense -- swung ( & swang, chiefly in Scotland and North of England)

    Past participle -- swung.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2008
  11. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Many thanks, Julian. I didn't know Nature would be interested in language!

    (Also fascinated by your native language as 'English & American English'.)
     
  12. tannen2004 Senior Member

    Illinois
    English/USA
    Just another contribution, the Oxford English Dictionary gives swang as the past tense of swing but with the note "rarely", preferring swung.
     
  13. El escoces Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    English - UK
    Posting content here suggests it's the reverse, losilmer: swung, except possibly swang in Scotland/North of England! (Where's Ewie Mod when you need a N of E opinion?)
     
  14. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    I have never heard anyone say "swang" in my life. If I did ever hear it used by someone who was from the same part of the English-speaking world as myself, it I would find the usage very odd, and less than educated, literary usage
     
  15. El escoces Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    English - UK
    So: swung (rarely, swang - in Scotland possibly?)

    Rare = precious, exceptional. Outstanding. Scotland. :D (OK, I'll stop...)
     
  16. jimreilly Senior Member

    Minneapolis
    American English
    I wonder if "swang" is a regional variant (where?) or if it is a form that crept into English usage during years of German immigration? My Dad's mom's family, German immigrants, used it, I think, and there were often "Germanisms" in their speech. Someone who knows about such things--does that make any sense?
     
  17. El escoces Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    English - UK
    Hmph.

    "And, shining with a gloom, the water grey
    Swang in its moon-taught way."

    (Elizabeth Barratt Browning, A Sea-Side Walk)

    Less than educated, literary usage? :D
     
  18. losilmer

    losilmer Senior Member

    Right, escoces.
    Corrected. Thanks.

    So, - to swing
    Past tense - swung (swang, in Scotland and North England)
    Past part. - swung.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2008
  19. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I think the Nature paper made a quantitative estimate of the fallibility of the speakers as a whole group. :)


    I was surprised too that Nature would accept that paper, but it seems like solid application of scientific method to language, which is something found in nature. I used to subscribe when I was in Biotech. for science news.


    I grew up in England and moved to the US. Sorry, but I just couldn't bring myself to declare "English English & American English" :) British English didn't fit either (what is that anyway?)
     
  20. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I had assumed from the beginning of this that it was a "German" verb that came into "English" as a "regular -i-, -a-, -u-" vowel change type verb (sing, sink, swim, ring etc there are quite a few - at one time I was fluent in German). Hence the interest in how/why it will get "regularized" through lack of use to the -i-, -u-, -u- form that is developing in its place.
     
  21. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    Swung is correct, at least for recent times. Some more English verbs with the same pattern:

    wring
    - wrung - wrung.
    string - strung - strung.
    spin - spun - spun.

    I wish I knew what makes particular verbs change patterns while others stay the same.
     
  22. Aardvark01

    Aardvark01 Senior Member

    Midlands, England
    British English (Midlands)
    Well I'm in the West Midlands of England and I'm accustomed to hearing swang used in Birmingham, Black Country and Shropshire accents:

    She swang the car around
    He swang the bat
    I swang it out with the rubbish


    This is the way me family and me friends talk. It's yow lot 's ca'n talk propper.
     
  23. kalamazoo Senior Member

    US, English
    Where was Elizabth BB from originally? Perhaps her local speech pattern included "swang." Other than that, I would be very surprised to hear "swang" used by an educated person. Although I must admit that most English speakers would readily understand what was meant anyway.
     
  24. Aardvark01

    Aardvark01 Senior Member

    Midlands, England
    British English (Midlands)
    Not so rare to my ears mate:mad:
    I grew up with 'swang' in common and literary usage.


    from Wordsworth's 'On the Power of Sound':
    - and Silenus swang
    This way and that, with wild flowers crowned.
     
  25. Ivo2008 New Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    In that context is the guy driving his car from side to side in this song, please?

    “They see me rollin'
    They hatin
    patrollin and tryna catch me ridin dirty
    Tryna catch me ridin dirty (*4X*)
    My music so loud I'm swangin
    They hopin' that they gone catch me ridin dirty
    Tryna catch me ridin dirty”

    Shoudn't he say "I am swinging"?
     
  26. Aardvark01

    Aardvark01 Senior Member

    Midlands, England
    British English (Midlands)
    Because this is an example of a local dialect (not mine, it sounds Jamaican to me) it is up to the community which speaks this way to decide what is 'correct'. It is clear that it is a variant of 'swinging', with the meaning of driving side to side of the road.

    In the context I used:
    He swang the car 'round

    it means that the car was facing one direction and did a single U turn to face the opposite direction.

    We might also say that someone swang by, idiomatically meaning:
    a brief visit by someone who was in the area
     
  27. Ivo2008 New Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    Thank you for this clarification, Aardvark01!
     
  28. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    I'm touched, Scottie, really I am.
    Like the Aardvark I'm quite used to hearing swang. I think I use swung and swang interchangeably/randomly for the past tense, but always swung for the past participle. I'll try and remember to listen up next time I say it:)
     
  29. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Adelaide
    Australia English
    Swang is an old form.

    It has not changed thanks to modern German influence.

    Here's a bit from a Wordsworth poem, composed about 1791

    A sound of chains along the desert rang;
    He looked, and saw upon a gibbet high
    A human body that in irons swang,
    Uplifted by the tempest whirling by;
    And, hovering, round it often did a raven fly.

     
  30. El escoces Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    English - UK
    So now we have Wordsworth, on top of Elizabeth Barratt Browning, using swang - not yesterday, admittedly - and the majority of native-British English speakers contributing to this thread expressing either use of or familiarity with, the "swang" form of the past tense - which makes the repeated references from our friends across the pond to this usage as "uneducated" rather regrettable. OED does not say "past tense swung, sometimes (incorrectly) swang", so can we please have some acceptance by US English speakers that they have been persuaded that, in other parts of the world, "swang" is alive, kicking and perfectly proper!
     
  31. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    Swing is uncommon in past tense where I live. Some people's swing sounds like other people's swang (Southern twang), so using swung for past tense assures that it won't be confused with present tense. (I would not expect a Southern twang from Browning or Wordsworth, so the more conservative swang makes sense.)

    There may be a slight difference in usage between swang and swung where both are common. If I were outside the South, I might use swung for a leisurely turn on playground equipment but swang for a sudden turn in an automobile. Does that make sense?
     
  32. toshev Senior Member

    Australia, English
    I'm used to 'swang'.
     
  33. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    Yes, sort of ~ swang does have a kind of abrupt feel to it, whereas swung sounds more leisurely. (He swung by the store sounds ... erm ... right.)

    (For a fraction of a second you had me worried there, Forero: I thought you were saying that some people used twang for the past tense of swing:eek::eek:)
     
  34. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Forero, Unfortunately one needs a subscription to obtain the full article in the Nature paper to whose abstract I provided a link. Their conclusion was that it is simply decreasing usage that causes the changes in this specific kind of situation. The more it is used, the less likely it is to change!
    Aardvaark, No value judgement implied and no aspersions on your hearing either :) I think the other responses in the thread are sufficient to support the case that in many places it is now rare. That does not mean, clearly, that it is uniformly rare everywhere... As I type this, I have just noticed the little red dotted underlines suggesting an incorrect spelling built into this board's text windows - it is underlining swang and not swung. It also underlines judgement :) so make of that what you will!

    It would be the trend to "regularization" (as defined in the Nature paper referenced in my first post in this thread) away from the original German that would cause a change from "I swang" to "I swung"

    I believe GWB is the only one and it was only once that I can find.

    There is clearly a group or groups of people for whom swang is current and in continued use (although I don't use "swung" that often myself so even the possibility of either would be classified as "rare"! I suspect if it came down to it, I personally would find either to be a little strange ;) ) - I don't think that was in question. I have to relate that when the film came out "Honey I shrunk the kids" I did groan, and still do when I hear "The ship sunk quickly" or similar examples of this so-called "regularization". I don't condone or judge the trend, just acknowledge that these things happen (and the paper shows one reason why) but do subscribe to the saying I first read from W. Safire : "When enough of us are wrong, we're right" - but the "tipping point" happens at different times in different areas.
     
  35. Grekh

    Grekh Senior Member

    Cognin, France
    Spanish, Mexico
    I always was taught at school the correct form was "swang". It's good to know that it's not so common anymore and that you all prefer using "swung".
     
  36. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Some, but not all!
    If you visit certain parts of the world, you will find "swang" in full swing ;)
     
  37. Aardvark01

    Aardvark01 Senior Member

    Midlands, England
    British English (Midlands)
    I realise that certain dictionaries and spell checks omit 'swang'. That merely tells me they are not comprehensive and it is to be expected.

    You may not have intended any aspersion, but reading your verb 'regularisation' in association with 'swang' suggests (whatever its special meaning) an intentional removal... to which I say: "grrrrr:mad:!" (probably not in spell check either but you get the idea)
     
  38. kalamazoo Senior Member

    US, English
    It's nice to have examples from Wordsworth and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but can anyone tell me (and please try to avoid snotty remarks about the pond, thanks) whether "swang" is currently normal usage in the UK in writing by educated people? I would be quite startled to see it in my morning newspaper here and would think it was an error.
     
  39. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I can imagine using it. I might have picked it up as a boy from my English relatives, but it doesn't sound horribly odd to me.

    "He swang out over the river on a rope and dropped in."

    As for UK examples, here are a few:

    BBC Sports
    As if by magic, the ball swang around sharply to the left, around the bewildered French wall and into the back of the net, leaving the baffled Fabien Barthez standing, as that was all he could do.

    BBC Weather
    Here on the forward side of the ridge building in the winds swang around to be northerly and this pulled in enough cloud in from the North Sea to squeeze out a few drops of rain on and off.
     
  40. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    No, I'd say that the standard BrE past tense of "swing" would be "swung":)
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2008
  41. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    Hmm... this one would also be "wrang" for me: "She wrang out the towel with both hands." "She soaked a washcloth in cool water, wrang it out, and placed it on the patient's forehead."

    Maybe I have some quirks in this area.
     
  42. Broccolicious Senior Member

    Glorious Devonshire
    English - England
    I agree with Loob, and when I saw JamesM's BBC quotes I literally made this face: :eek:

    It would definitely be 'swung' for me. Not that I do, you understand...
     
  43. Aardvark01

    Aardvark01 Senior Member

    Midlands, England
    British English (Midlands)
    Murray Fed: what a screamer
    [SIZE=-1]BBC Sport, UK - Nov 14, 2008[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=-1]It swang from one side to the other with both players giving it their all.[/SIZE]

    X Factor Scott to bounce back
    [SIZE=-1]Manchester Online, UK - Oct 26, 2008[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=-1]“I honestly don’t think that the story swang it for him.[/SIZE]

    I've never heard 'the pond' used in a snotty way, only a humourous way. What does sound snotty is the idea that 'swang' is a sign of being uneducated, an assertion you have repeated in this thread with scant regard for those of us who have stated we do use it.
     
  44. El escoces Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    English - UK
    And I'm betting that Aardvark is at least educated, if not, like me, highly educated, and entirely comfortable with "swang".

    JamesM, I agree completely - wrung seems, to me (because it's not the usage I am familiar with) quite wrong as the past tense of wring.

    It's also misleading to focus on what you might read in your morning paper (wherever that might be), since language use is much wider than journalistic writing, and in particular the spoken word admits of much more flexibility than the press, where house styles presumably govern.
     
  45. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I now understand the idea you are trying to convey but it is misdirected.

    I think you'll see my use of the word (with OED-preferred Z :) ) was firmly in quotation marks because it was the word used by the learned (or at least peer-reviewed) authors of the article from the renowned British journal Nature to which I provided a link. You may not like the term they have chosen to describe the phenomenon we are witnessing, but one can make a fair case that language(s) evolve through a series of, among other things, (mis)appropriation of foreign words and perpetuation of errors. The conversion of swang to the supposedly more "regular" swung by what may well be a majority of English speakers, is an example of the phenomenon they studied: the subconscious feeling that languages have "rules" and some "irregular-sounding" things need to be corrected. It would be nice to be able to post a copy of the full article but it is not in the public domain (only the abstract). Please feel free to direct the grrrrr:mad: at the authors - or whomever they cite as the originators of the term.

    As ever, with cordial greetings
     
  46. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Who said "swang" was uneducated?

    We all have our own variants of English.

    I happen to use "swung" as the past tense of "swing". I also think that "swung" is the standard English past tense of "swing".

    But I have absolutely no views as to the 'educational level' of those who prefer "swang". Varietal preference, to me, has little or nothing to do with level of education.
     
  47. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Just in case my position on this wasn't clear from my posts : What she said!
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2008
  48. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    When it comes to irregular past tenses, for me wrung sounds wronger than wrang.
     
  49. kalamazoo Senior Member

    US, English
    I would never have guessed that "swang" was used in the UK today. In the US, I can't really imagine an educated AE speaker using it. Sorry for any misunderstandings.
     
  50. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    And for me - is this off-topic? - "wrang" sounds more wrong than "wrung"...
     

Share This Page