[Ads-l] The end is near: "substitute for" replaces "replace with"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu May 12 15:13:11 EDT 2016

Color me skeptical.  Given that it's easy to document myriad occurrences of the innovative substitute (SUBSTITUTE OLD FOR NEW = 'replace old with new'), including the many we've discussed on this list (see especially Arnold Zwicky's postings), and given that in a Mechanical Turk survey we conducted shows the wide acceptability (slightly more for younger speakers) across the U.S. (and it would be higher in the U.K.) for OLD FOR NEW readings in such sentences as "You can substitute pecans for oatmeal in the recipe", "You can substitute salad for soup for $2", or "My teacher often tells us to substitute reality television for educational programming", it's far more plausible that Mark Mandel's example involves this use (which is the only interpretation for many speakers and a possible reading for many others) than that the writer had intended "substitute, for sloganeering, actionable plans".  I have examples of web posts and menus in which both SUBSTITUTE OLD FOR NEW and the traditional SUBSTITUTE NEW FOR OLD readings occur two sentences apart.  It's also easy to find examples in which the old item is in subject position as in "Tofu substitutes for beef in this recipe", where no misplaced word analysis is available.  We may or may not like it but it's here to stay (and it's been here for a while, as the OED documents).  The classic paper on the reanalysis of "substitute X for/with Y" is 

Denison, David. 2009. Argument structure. In G. Rohdenburg & & J. Schlüter (eds.), _One Language, Two Grammars? Differences Between British and American English_, 149-165. CUP.


> On May 12, 2016, at 10:44 AM, James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at netscape.com> wrote:
> On Wed, 11 May 2016 21:15:23 Zone-0400  Mark Mandel <thnidu at GMAIL.COM> quoted:
> I’m not sure I’ve ever been more disappointed in a politician than I’ve
> become with Bernie Sanders. He was My Guy in the beginning. I really 
> wanted
> him to be the real deal. I hoped for a year, that he would substitute
> sloganeering for actionable plans, and unfortunately I’m still waiting.
> <<<<<
> This strikes me as no more than a misplaced word, the writer intending to write "substitute, for sloganeering, actionable plans".
> Similarly, my local supermarket is advertising a "gluten-free certified Cajun sauce".  Either the word "certified" is misplaced or the Department of Agriculture has a bilingual inspector who goes to the sauce factor to certify that all the assembly-line workers speak French.
> James A. Landau
> _____________________________________________________________
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