[Ads-l] "void _out_"?!

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Sep 15 14:47:25 EDT 2016

> On Sep 15, 2016, at 2:41 PM, David Champion <dgc.ads at BIKESHED.US> wrote:
> * On 15 Sep 2016, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> 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.
> That's my feel.
> Computer programmers use the expression "comment out". It means not
> simply to add a comment -- usually non-functional text for purposes
> of description, explanation, or cheap comedy -- but to change actual
> code to a comment for the purpose of deactivating instructions that
> previously were wanted, without removing those instructions from the
> visual story of the software.  It takes code _out_ of the program by
> means of a comment.
> "Void out" seems different because taking out is what voiding means, but
> I wonder whether the particle in "void out" similarly imbues intent, not
> just action.
Yes, intent or focus on the result (it's out/gone).  Similarly with sub/switch/swap/strike it out: the goal is to get rid of it.  So with "void out" you're out-ing it by voiding, with "swap out" you're out-ing it by swapping, etc.  "Comment out" is a neat example of this.  


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