Prisoners are persons whom most of us would rather not think about. Banished from everyday sight, they exist in a shadow world that only dimly enters our awareness. They are members of a "total institution" that controls their daily existence in a way that few of us can imagine. "[P]rison is a complex of physical arrangements and of measures, all wholly governmental, all wholly performed by agents of government, which determine the total existence of certain human beings (except perhaps in the realm of the spirit, and inevitably there as well) from sundown to sundown, sleeping, walking, speaking, silent, working, playing, viewing, eating, voiding, reading, alone, with others. . . ." It is thus easy to think of prisoners as members of a separate netherworld, driven by its own demands, ordered by its own customs, ruled by those whose claim to power rests on raw necessity. -- Justice William Brennan, dissenting in O’Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 354-55 (1987).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Pled" or "Pleaded"

I finally couldn't stand it any longer.

In my various readings, I have noticed that the past tense of "plead" has been rendered as either "pled" or "pleaded", as in "John 'pled' guilty" or "John 'pleaded' guilty".

So, having nothing else to do (NOT!), I decided to research the matter.

I found the following on the GrammarPhobia Blog:
Q: When I was growing up and a person accused of a crime proclaimed his
innocence or acknowledged his guilt, it was always stated that he "pled" guilty or innocent. Now I hear poeple say he "pleaded" guilty or innocent. When did the change occur? My tongue has to take the Fifth when pushed to speak that word.

A: American dictionaries generally list both "pleaded" and "pled" (in that order) as past tenses for the verb "plead." So you can say a scofflaw "pleaded guilty" or "pled guilty" and be correct either way, though the first is the more common form. Bryan A. Garner's Dictionary of Modern American Usage also says that "pleaded" is the predominant form in both American and British English. But in legal terminology, "pled" is a common variant in the U.S. (not in Britain). So it's quite common to say of an American perp that he "pled guilty" or "has pled guilty." Since "pled" dates from the 16th century (even though it's now all but obsolete in England), there's no reason you shouldn't stick to it if that's your preference.

Merriam-Webster seems to agree.

Now I can sleep peacefully again.

1 comment:

Tea N. Crumpet said...

Ok-- but can you tell me what is plural for moose?