Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Havoc, she wrote

I was all set to post a sarcastic link to one of the British Freedom Party's twenty points (in their 20-point plan for setting the country to rights). To wit, point number 9:

"Repair the damage wreaked by the progressive educational establishment."

I had a title ("You couldn't make it up") and everything, secure in my knowledge that the damage should have been wrought, not wreaked. (The point being the subject matter of point no. 9.) And I have to say that "wreaked" still sounds wrong to me. However, a little cautionary Googling advises me that:

Recently, we mentioned that something had wreaked havoc with our PC. We were fairly quickly corrected by someone who said, "Shouldn't that be wrought havoc?" The answer is no, because either wreaked or wrought is fine here. A misconception often arises because wrought is wrongly assumed to be the past participle of wreak. In fact wrought is the past participle of an early version of the word work!

Wreak comes from Old English wrecan "drive out, punish, avenge", which derives ultimately from the Indo-European root *wreg- "push, shove, drive, track down". Latin urgere "to urge" comes from the same source, giving English urge. Interestingly, wreak is also related to wrack and wreck. The phrase wreak havoc was first used by Agatha Christie in 1923.


And there are plenty of other sites with advice in a similar vein. So that's me told then.

Not, I feel certain, that any such linguistic scruples occurred to the geniuses of the BFP.

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