Sunday, July 19, 2020

Sped up, or speeded up

The car chase at the end of High Sierra: was the film sped up, or speeded up ?

Garner’s Modern English Usage is on the case:

The best past tense and past-participial form is sped, not *speeded. It has been so since the 17th century. But there’s one exception: the phrasal verb speed up (= to accelerate) <she speeded up to 80 m.p.h.>.
But the GMEU recommendation may have to change as usage changes: the Google Ngram Viewer shows sped up on the rise and speeded up steadily declining.

The Viewer’s peak years for speeded up are 1942 and 1943. High Sierra is from 1941, so let’s say that the film was speeded up.


Bryan Garner tells me that he’ll be revising the entry for speed > sped > sped.

[1942, 1943: because of references to wartime production?]

comments: 3

Daughter Number Three said...

I know I am wrong (according to Garner and other sources) on multiple uses that seem comparable, at least in my head... I tend to stick to the "strong verb" past-tense forms even when they may not be the preferred one or even, I guess, the correct one. (Do I remember an earlier comment conversation with you about "shined" vs. "shone," for instance?) Maybe it's a vestige of my northern Appalachia upbringing.

Most recently, there was a letter to the editor of my local paper from a retired English teacher decrying someone using "dove" instead of "dived" as clearly incorrect. Dove sounds better to me, I admit. Then another letter, just today, gave the teacher examples — including from F. Scott Fitzgerald — where dove was used.

O English, how we love you.

Michael Leddy said...

I’m sorry, I have no memory of shined and shone. I checked both our blogs — couldn’t find anything, though you do have a post about Bill Bryson with the words.

I gotta say, it’s English teachers like that one who give English teachers a bad name. GMEU has the goods: since 1986 dove has far greater frequency than dived in American English and should be considered standard.

Michael Leddy said...

P.S.: Bryan Garner says he’s revising the entry for speed.