Friday, January 18, 2013

Is it Pled or Pleaded? (1/18/13)

I have not dealt previously with some of the finer points of the English language.  However, I do today after reading an ABA Journal Law News Now blog on the topic "Is it 'pleaded' or 'pled'?, here  (Actually, I am not sure that this is one of the finer points; notice also that I reversed the order in the topic of this blog, signaling my preferred usage.)  This brief ABA article links to a longer one at Daily Report:  John Chandler and Brian Boone, War of the Words: pleaded vs. pled (Daily Report 1/15/13), here.

Readers who are interested in the question have probably noticed that I usually use "pled" in this blog.  It sounds right to me.

The article by Messrs. Chandler and Boone is helpful:

Mr. Chandler's view (said to be minority) (footnotes omitted):
Use "pled." Boone needs to get out more—"pleaded" may seem fine on paper, but lawyers chuck the word when they head to court. A lawyer arguing a motion to dismiss doesn't say, "They haven't pleaded scienter." He says, "They haven't pled scienter." 
* * * * 
Twice, legal tabloid/blog Above the Law has asked its readers which they prefer—"pleaded" or "pled." Twice, strong majorities chose "pled." Check Westlaw or Lexis, and you'll find that judges use "pled" more often than "pleaded." 
* * * * 
Boone can wield a pen, but on this one, he's stuck in the past. Use "pled."
Mr. Boone's view (said to be majority)
Use "pleaded." Chandler slips into hyperbole when he says that "everybody says 'pled.'" That, of course, isn't true. In fact, every legal and journalistic writing guide from the last 100 years has said that "pleaded" is the better choice.6 And for good reason: "Pleaded" better captures the past-tense-ness of the event.
Their Concluding Remarks:
So there you have it. We'll leave it to you to decide who has the better of the argument. 
But whatever you do, don't use "plead" as the past tense of "plead." That's just wrong.
See also Staci Zaretsky, Grammer Pole of the Weak: Pleaded v. Pled (Above the Law 12/16/11), here.  The comments in the ATL article and the poll seem not conclusive but pled is a strong contender.

So, I will continue to use pled.  It "sounds" better to me.  So, whenever readers are reading my blog to their children, grandchildren and pets, the use of pled may sound better.

1 comment:

  1. For the descriptivist: pled is what people use when they talk. For the prescriptivist: pled is shorter, just as understandable, and easier for the native speaker (if harder for the foreigner).


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