substitution of X with Y

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 10 17:30:03 UTC 2008

Thanks, arnold, but, really, "You  got the old coon, this time," as
the punch line to the old, long-winded pun goes. I vaguely remember
the discussion. Hence, I know that I could have looked up the
discussion in the archives. I'm kinda having a bad-health day and am
preparing to make a run to the doc's and I just didn't feel like it. I
didn't participate in that discussion because I was still dealing with
the newcomer attitude problem: Can it truly be the case that I'm the
only person on earth - or is that "on Earth"? - who speaks proper

Though I grew up with only "substitute X for Y," I knew that German
and other languages had something like "substitute Y with X," which
hung me up when I first came across it, since it required "reverse
interpretation," so to speak. Then, I started to see something similar
in English (in BrE first?), where, IMO at the time, it was an even
worse problem, since it really interferes with my automatic
understanding of English.

Now, having mastered my initially-negative emotional response - like,
it's about *dialects*, whether academic or rural, no? - I was just
kinda, sorta wondering how far people for whom this construction is
natural are willing to take this "innovation."

Though I meant no harm, I apologize. (This is as close as I can come
to the hated, extremely-peeving, "*if* I've done anything that someone
may have been injured by," etc. That's *so* bleeping weasling! It's
makes it seem as though the problem is the injured party's fault for
being overly sensitive, even unmanly and not able to take it. Either
apologize for real or tell them to get stuffed.)

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

On Wed, Dec 10, 2008 at 10:32 AM, Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: substitution of X with Y
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Dec 10, 2008, at 7:08 AM, Wilson Gray wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
>> Subject:      substitution of X with Y
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> "... substitution of 'call in sick' with 'call in gay' ..."
>> I don't know that I've ever seen this construction before. Would "...
>> substitution of 'call in sick' _by_ 'call in gay' ..." also be
>> grammatical? How about "... substitution of 'call in gay' for 'call in
>> sick' ..."?
> we've discussed these uses of "substitute" (plus another, labeled
> "reversed substitute") many times here on ADS-L.  from a posting of
> mine from 10/26/04:
> using [david] denison's (hopefully transparent) labels OLD and NEW,
> the original verb usages were:
>   (1) substitute NEW for OLD  (NEW be substituted for OLD)
>   (2) replace OLD by/with NEW  (OLD be replaced by/with NEW)
> "substitute" then encroaches on "replace" territory, giving the
> proscribed (but very widespread and unambiguous):
>   (3) substitute OLD by/with NEW  (OLD be substituted by/with NEW)
> ----
> as i pointed out several times in these discussions, MWDEU has a nice
> discussion of "encroached substitute" as in (3).
> encroached "substitute" is now so frequent, including in material from
> "good writers" in serious contexts, that i'm not sure it can fairly be
> labeled as non-standard.
> to be fair to wilson, as far as i can tell he wasn't a participant in
> these years of discussion of encroached and reversed "substitute" on
> ADS-L.  he might simply have skipped over these threads as not being
> of interest.
> arnold
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list