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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Language Log: Flew vs. Flied

Thus one says […] flied out in baseball [from a fly (ball)], not flew out […]”. And he famously co-authored a 1991 paper in Cognitive Science with the audacious title  “Why no mere mortal has ever flown out to center field”.

<lockquote>

There’s no flewing in baseball?

Toby Posted: September 23, 2012 at 09:37 AM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: general, history

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   1. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: September 23, 2012 at 01:20 PM (#4243617)
I just came here to link this; I really didn't think anyone would beat me to it.

I actually made a joke about flied/flew on Language Log a few years ago.
   2. BDC Posted: September 23, 2012 at 02:31 PM (#4243645)
And I saw it this morning, having caught up with Language Log after a few weeks away. I hope people will bookmark the site; it's consistently fascinating.

It's an interesting issue in language practice. If asked, I would certainly say that "flied out" is the baseball term, and I agree that "flew out" both sounds awkward and brings up uncomfortable images of Christopher Lloyd in Angels in the Outfield. But when you actually try to recount the events of an inning to someone who's back from getting a hotdog, I find that people very often at least start the phrase "flew out," sometimes correcting it, sometimes regretting or half-apologizing for it, often not caring in the least. (I have not charted the two variants against beer consumption.)

It might have a lot to do with context-switching. If you were at the ballgame all the time, or thought about baseball as much as some of us do here, you might never say "flew out." (If you know nothing about baseball, you'd never have occasion to say "flied out.") But if you go back and forth between baseball and lesser realities, you might continually use the phrase from the other context, much as I used to have a hard time with the phrase "Houston Street" when I commuted between Dallas and New York.
   3. CrosbyBird Posted: September 23, 2012 at 03:33 PM (#4243685)
I'd definitely say that "flied out" is the correct form, but "flew out" doesn't sound wrong. I read "The Language Instinct" and I think Pinker has some interesting ideas about what makes for using the regular form of irregular verbs, but I'm sure it's not a perfect explanation.

IIRC, it has something to do with whether the verb is linked strongly to a noun. When we say "Jeter flied out to centerfield," we're really saying "Jeter hit a fly ball for an out to centerfield." It's not a "way of flying" so much as its own verb based on the noun-phrase "fly ball." When the verb-phrase is merely a modified form of an existing irregular verb, it stays irregular: "John went postal (not "John goed postal"). The same word, however, when used to describe the noun-phrase is conjugated regularly: "Go used be to the most popular sport in Japan, but last year, chess out-Goed Go." (as opposed to "out-Went Go).

Also, when the modified version of an irregular verb has practically no relationship to the form of the original verb, it also can end up reverting back to regular form; compare "John overtook Mary in the potato sack race" to "John double-taked when he realized that Mary had nothing on under the potato sack." ("Overtaked" and "double-took" sound very awkward.)

   4. boteman Posted: September 23, 2012 at 07:00 PM (#4243812)
It's a colloquial usage, and that pretty much ends it.

If I knew the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs I could make an argument about the difference between "flew" and "flied" and who's doing what, but I'll leave that to those better schooled on the subject.

You go into Nawth Cahlina and they don't say "I want to go to the store", instead they say "I'm wantin to go to the store". Colloquialisms make the world go around, and I love 'em. Even when I want to damn them.
   5. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 23, 2012 at 07:30 PM (#4243829)
instead they say "I'm wantin to go to the store".

in South Carolina, they're fixin' to
   6.  Hey Gurl Posted: September 23, 2012 at 07:41 PM (#4243832)
I prefer flied out. I think it is because the term out has a much different meaning in this context than it would in any other context, so a different verb makes sense. Similar to how we say "hanged" rather than hung when talking about the act of executing persons.
   7. Foster Posted: September 23, 2012 at 08:07 PM (#4243843)
"Flew out" is wrong, although I never thought about it grammatically. It's just a baseball thing. Like I prefer RBIs to RBI ("he has 100 RBIs" vs "he has 100 RBI") even though the RBI acronym is already plural.
   8. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 23, 2012 at 08:32 PM (#4243849)
But when you actually try to recount the events of an inning to someone who's back from getting a hotdog, I find that people very often at least start the phrase "flew out," sometimes correcting it, sometimes regretting or half-apologizing for it, often not caring in the least.


I just say "F7".

in South Carolina, they're fixin' to


In Mississippi, they fi'nta.
   9. Toby Posted: September 24, 2012 at 08:25 AM (#4244000)
I'm not offended at all by "flew out", in fact I suspect it's actually the proper usage here and has simply been mis-analyzed.

In baseball we have a conceit where we attribute things to the batter that are actually done by the ball. It's the ball that grounds to second, not the batter. Likewise, it's the ball that popped up to short and flew (not flied) out to left field.

In baseball we attribute the action of the ball to the batter, sometimes. So we say Jeter grounds to second, and Jeter popped up to short, and Jeter flew out to left field.

This isn't just a baseball thing. We say that farmers grow crops, and in the past tense we say that farmers grew (not growed) crops.
   10. BDC Posted: September 24, 2012 at 08:49 AM (#4244003)
Similar to how we say "hanged" rather than hung when talking about the act of executing persons

Similar, though in the baseball case it's partly also because "to fly out" is a phrasal verb (going along with its compound noun "fly out." The compounding makes "fly" in that situation a somewhat different word than the "fly" that a bird does.
   11. zack Posted: September 24, 2012 at 09:31 AM (#4244022)
Clearly this all could be solved by moving to German and it's wonderful compound words, then we have Die Flederaus.
   12. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 24, 2012 at 10:15 AM (#4244034)
I done slud into third, but I shudda stood in bed.
   13. ecwcat Posted: September 24, 2012 at 11:03 AM (#4244068)
Pardon me- would you happen to have any Grey Poupon?

Language Log and this thread: frivolities for the intellectual elite.

   14. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 11:15 AM (#4244081)
Similar to how we say "hanged" rather than hung when talking about the act of executing persons.


I think this is a remnant of the old perfect verb system which has largely been lost in English. The best example I can think of of it still in use is drink (present) drank (past) drunk (perfect).
So hang (present), hung (past), hanged (perfect).
   15. rlc Posted: September 24, 2012 at 12:14 PM (#4244133)
I haven't read the Pinker article referenced in the blog, but I have to think that the usage is in fact entirely driven by the humorous image called up by the phrase "So-and-so flew out to center", and not because the verb "to fly out" is derived from a noun "fly out". There is absolutely universal agreement on the correct past form of the verb derived from the noun "strike out", is there not? Have you ever heard someone say "he striked out?"
   16. Charlie O Posted: September 24, 2012 at 04:07 PM (#4244479)
Like I prefer RBIs to RBI ("he has 100 RBIs" vs "he has 100 RBI") even though the RBI acronym is already plural.


In the measurement of pitch speed, do you go with 95 MPHs or 95 MPH?
   17. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 24, 2012 at 05:18 PM (#4244572)
In baseball we have a conceit where we attribute things to the batter that are actually done by the ball. It's the ball that grounds to second, not the batter.

The ball rolls to second, or bounces to second. The batter grounds to second. I believe the use of "ground" as a present-tense verb is unique to baseball (and electrical circuits).
   18. Poster Nutbag Posted: September 24, 2012 at 05:51 PM (#4244584)
"The batter hit a ground ball out to second base."

"The batter hit a ground out to second"

"The batter hit a grounder to second"

"The batter grounds to second"

Are we sure we aren't just abbreviating sentences like we do words, particularly as the game became increasingly popular via Radio/TV broadcasts?

It also works starting from : "The batter hit a fly ball out to Centerfield/the Centerfielder" -> "The batter flies/flew out to center"

(Sorry if I burst the intellectual bubble, but it honestly seems like some are WAY over-analyzing this and overlooking the most logical answer..abbreviation....besides, if we're abbreviating, is there a rule to follow anyway? Honest question)

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