"exchange X for Y"

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Dec 3 15:04:51 UTC 2005

At 11:30 PM 12/2/2005, you wrote:
>A recent item on Wonkette begins...
>      An atheist student group in Texas has set up shop on
>      their campus offering to exchange porn for Bibles.
>      http://www.wonkette.com/politics/porn/porno-for-lordos-140689.php
>I was momentarily confused until I continued reading the story and
>realized that the group was trying to get students to drop off their
>Bibles and get porn in return. To me, the sentence reads like it
>should be the other way around. Is "exchange NEW for OLD" a new
>phenomenon? I know Arnold Zwicky and others have looked at similar
>reversals with "substitute" and "replace", but I don't recall
>"exchange" being discussed.
>The more I think about this the less sure of my intuitions I get, so
>just to confirm that "exchange OLD for NEW" is the default, I found
>this passage, appropriately enough in a salacious section of the New
>American Bible (Romans 1:22-27):
>     While claiming to be wise, they became fools
>     and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image
>      of mortal man or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes.
>     Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of
>      their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies.
>     They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the
>      creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
>     Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females
>      exchanged natural relations for unnatural,
>     and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned
>      with lust for one another.
>Any thoughts on the matter? (Pure and natural ones, of course.)

I think "exchange OLD for NEW" is the default, all righty, but I think the
above example matches the default. If the atheists give Joe some porno and
Joe gives them a Bible, then Joe has exchanged an old [to him] Bible for
some new [to him] porno, while the atheists have exchanged some old [to
them] porno for a new [to them] Bible. Which is what they offered to do, I
think; they didn't offer e.g. "a chance for Joe to exchange porn for
Bibles" as I read the above piece. At least that's how it seems to me;
maybe I'm missing something again.

-- Doug Wilson

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