<abandoned > or < abolished> capital punishment?

High on grammar

Senior Member
Farsi
Hello everyone:

Shouldn't the writer of the following sentence have used "abolished" instead of "abandoned"?

When Alaska and Hawaii joined the union in 1957, both exercised their option to abandon capital punishment.

books

Encyclopedia of Social Problems, Volume 1
By Vincent N. Parrillo

Thanks
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    No. "abandon" is fine, meaning give up, which in this case means giving up the practice of. Capital punishment could remain on the statute book and not be formally abolished, but it is never used.

    Capital punishment in Britain was not formally abolished until 1998, but the last time it was used was in 1964.
     

    High on grammar

    Senior Member
    Farsi
    No. "abandon" is fine, meaning give up, which in this case means giving up the practice of. Capital punishment could remain on the statute book and not be formally abolished, but it is never used.

    Capital punishment in Britain was not formally abolished until 1998, but the last time it was used was in 1964.


    Since capital punishment was abandoned, the crime rate has increased.:cross:


    Since capital punishment was abolished, the crime rate has increased.:tick:


    Abandon= give up a plan, activity or attempt to do something, without being successful: ‘Bad weather forced them to abandon the search.’ ‘Without government support, the project will have to be abandoned.’


    Abolish= remove a law, tradition, or system, often by introducing a new law: do away with: ‘In which year was slavery abolished in the United States?’ ‘ I’d hate to see the monarchy abolished.’


    SOURCE: Longman Dictionary of Common Errors by N. D Turton and J.B Heaton
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    abandon, v.
    I. To give up or relinquish completely.
    1. transitive. To let go, give up, renounce (a pursuit, practice, possession, etc.); to cease to use, have, or practise.
    SOURCE: Oxford English Dictionary

    I don't recall having encountered the Longman Dictionary of Common Errors before, but the Longman English Dictionary is almost a byword for unreliability on this forum. If you abandon an attempt, then the attempt was unsuccessful, but if you abandon a practice (or "activity", as Longman puts it), then success or failure does not apply, you just stop doing it.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I looked at the source. I understand from it that capital punishment had been practised in Hawaii and Alaska, but when they became states of the USA it was decided that they would put an end to the practice, and it wasn't ever written into the laws of those two states. Therefore they abandoned the practice of capital punishment. They didn't have to abolish it formally by passing a law.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    They really are two different, overlapping ideas. It's a matter of style, emphasis and context for a writer to pick which one matches his intent the best.

    That's not to say he can choose between the word orange and the word abolish. Orange simply doesn't fit. But abandon in a general sense meaning to stop (or leave behind) is a well-established usage. It's more general than abolish. Abolish fits inside abandon, but not the other way around. You can abandon things without abolishing them but you can't abolish things without abandoning them (stop doing them).

    The nuance of abandon is less legalistic than abolish and less harsh in tone. It hints that there was no big fight over it (but I don't know if that was true).
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    To me, if you abandon a practice, you simply stop doing whatever it is, for whatever reason. If on the other hand you abolish it, it's thereafter no longer legal to do it.

    In the case of Alaska, the article in the Death Penalty Information Center states:
    The abolition measure passed by the Alaska Territorial Legislature in 1957 stated simply: "The death penalty is and shall hereafter be abolished as punishment in Alaska for the commission of any crime."

    For Hawaii on the other hand, the corresponding entry reads:
    Hawaii abolished the death penalty in 1957.

    Attempts to reinstate the death penalty have been presented to the state legislature over 15 times but have been unsuccessful.


    And this article I found entitled Hawaii - Abolishment [sic] of the Death Penalty states:
    Hawaii abolished the death penalty in 1957 before being granted statehood.

    "In 1957...House Bill 706 revised the act relating to capital punishment by providing 'a sentence of imprisonment at hard labor for life not subject to parole.' The legislature passed the bill on June 4, 1957. Governor Samuel King, who was part Hawaiian, signed HB 706 the following day, thus abolishing the death penalty. The bill became Act 282."

    So in the light of those, I would maintain that the use of "abandoned" in that context is, strictly speaking, incorrect.

     
    Last edited:

    High on grammar

    Senior Member
    Farsi
    To me, if you abandon a practice, you simply stop doing whatever it is, for whatever reason. If on the other hand you abolish it, it's thereafter no longer legal to do it.

    In the case of Alaska, the article in the Death Penalty Information Center states:
    The abolition measure passed by the Alaska Territorial Legislature in 1957 stated simply: "The death penalty is and shall hereafter be abolished as punishment in Alaska for the commission of any crime."

    For Hawaii on the other hand, the corresponding entry reads:
    Hawaii abolished the death penalty in 1957.

    Attempts to reinstate the death penalty have been presented to the state legislature over 15 times but have been unsuccessful.


    And this article I found entitled Hawaii - Abolishment [sic] of the Death Penalty states:
    Hawaii abolished the death penalty in 1957 before being granted statehood.

    "In 1957...House Bill 706 revised the act relating to capital punishment by providing 'a sentence of imprisonment at hard labor for life not subject to parole.' The legislature passed the bill on June 4, 1957. Governor Samuel King, who was part Hawaiian, signed HB 706 the following day, thus abolishing the death penalty. The bill became Act 282."

    So in the light of those, I would maintain that the use of "abandoned" in that context is, strictly speaking, incorrect.
    :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup: the best as always.
     
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