there's an interesting directionality to the irregularity. I wonder whether, in causative/inchoative pairs where only one is irregular, it's always the inchoative?Now, I'm not worthy to answer any questions about word forms, especially not those raised by someone who understands morphology, but out here in the blogosphere, qualifications apparently play no role in letting loose. So, despite my complete ignorance of the vast literature on this general area, where all relevant data have surely been fully analyzed, here goes …
In looking at causative/inchoative pairs, I wasn't seeing any variation in inflection that I could spot, so I tried from the other direction: Below is a list of English verbs where regular/irregular inflection is said to correlate with some difference in meaning.* I'll just list the strong forms, since the weak forms are pretty clear, unless there are two distinct forms beyond -ed.
- bid, bade, bidden (vs. bid, bid, bid)
- blow, blew, blown
- cost, cost, cost
- get, got, gotten (vs. got)
- hang, hung, hung
- heave hove, hove
- knit, knit, knit
- shine, shone, shone
- slay, slew, slain
- speed, sped, sped
- stave, stove, stove
- work, wrought, wrought (archaic, of course, as they note)
Beyond that, this list has some oddities, at least for my intuitions.
- First, going back to the original example that triggered this, while shined/shone is in there, outshine is listed only as strong.
- Second, I have no intuition at all about most of these, or didn't immediate consider them the same verb — hove is simply a nautical term or really archaic.
- For some others they don't count, I do have a clear sense: lit works for various figurative uses where lighted just doesn't — like 'to spin the tires on a car' ("Earnhardt really lit'em up coming out of the pits"). The strong form seems like it might be better generally for causative uses.
The distinction between hanged and hung is not an especially useful one … . 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.Beautiful! And right! There's the case for following lots of prescriptions. But in the end, I'm not seeing a clear correlation in this little dataset. But surely there's more data and this question has been answered somewhere that I just don't know about.
*Data from the English strong verb appendix to the Oxford Duden German Dictionary — the first place I found such a list.
**Don't miss Jan's column today on language and politics, here.