[Ads-l] "void _out_"?!

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Sep 15 13:20:54 EDT 2016


> On Sep 15, 2016, at 1:08 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 
> From a monitory form-letter from the MIT Alumni Association:
> 
> "... we will have to _void out_ your application."
> 
> A simple _void_ is no longer sufficient?
> 
> 71,000 _very_ raw hits. Cf.
> 
> "Take your dog out about 45 minutes after it eats to _void out_ its meal."
> 
> "There's been a big _void out_ there."

I think this last one (judging from the web sites I find) is different, "a void [out there]", not "a [void out] there'.    

But the other ones Wilson cites tend to reinforce a sense I have that "out" as a particle is called on to do more work than it used to do.  Instead of "substitute X for Y" we get "switch out", "swap out", or "sub out".  Part of this may of course be a disambiguator for those who can say or understand "substitute X for Y" with the sense of 'replace x with y', our "reversed" or "inverse" substitute of earlier threads.  But that raises the question of why such speakers don't simply say "replace Y with X" rather than "switch out X for Y".  I think it's partly this "out" trendiness.  Hard to do a Google ngram search to (dis)confirm this, for various reasons (cutoff at 2008, restriction to book register rather than speech, irrelevant hits), but I think it's real, and "void out" for "void" would be another instance, where it's the preposition/particle that's carrying the load, rather than (just) the choice of verb.  

LH
> -- 
> -Wilson
> -----
> 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
> 
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