on reversed "substitute" (intransitive version)

Mon Mar 4 15:57:53 UTC 2013

I disagree with Arnold's last line:  The current thread is an example of the success of institutional memory.  Individuals can' t be expected to know everything that has been discussed in the past, and if they did, we wouldn't even need institutional memory.  When a poster was unaware of or had forgotten the previous discussions of reversed "substitute," other posters brought those old discussions to his attention, explained their significance, and pointed to archived materials.  That's how institutional memory is supposed to work.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Arnold Zwicky
Sent: Monday, March 04, 2013 10:45 AM
Subject: Re: on reversed "substitute" (intransitive version)

On Mar 4, 2013, at 6:28 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:

> The objection (or, to put it more neutrally, the non-occurring example) for us old-timers arises from the preposition governed by "substitute".  You can replace butter with olive oil, or equivalently (as in your Mac dictionary examples) substitute olive for butter, but you can't substitute butter with olive oil or vice versa.  In fact I still have trouble figuring out what's being moved in and what's being deleted in such cases, but as Wiktionary says this use is increasing despite the carping (or the non-comprehension) from the old-timers.
> We've certainly discussed it to death here, and there are no doubt Language Log or other blogs on the topic, as Ben will remind us.

i've gone through the topic on this mailing list far too many times over the years.  here's a compact summary on my blog:


i won't be posting on the topic again, since i have nothing new to add.

but the topic is a poignant example of the failure of institutional memory.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list