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Summary Details

Query:   Use of 'Substitute'
Author:  David Denison
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Historical Linguistics

Summary:   I asked what exactly was meant by

(3) Non-specialists only can be substituted out of the lineup once per
quarter, meaning two-way players can expect to be on the field upward of 45
to 50 minutes of a 60-minute game. (ANC, NYTimes)

The following respondents provided interpretations: Paula Radetzky +
anonymous friend, Steven Keiser, Nicholas Fleisher, Peter T. Daniels, Nancy
Frishberg, Daniel Loehr, Bruce Despain. Other points were taken up by Rod
McConchie, Serhiy Potapenko, Earl Herrick. Thanks to all. Steve, Nick and
Dan were particularly clear on the direction of substitution, while Steve
and Paula figured out that the passage probably comes from the rules of
Arena Football, a recent indoor variant of American football.

Example (3) evidently discusses replacement of certain players currently
?in the lineup? (i.e., playing). (Three very positive, male respondents
outvote someone who professes herself ?not a sports nut?.) It therefore
belongs to the type where ?to substitute player X? means that X is not the
substitute but the one replaced. In other words, the direct object of
_substitute_ is 'old' (already in the context), as in British sporting
usage and unlike (other kinds of) standard English. However, American
usage does seem to differ from British in that (a) the verb _substitute_ is
used less often in the context of sport - or rather, ?sports?, since we?re
talking American here; (b) the clipping _sub_ is common as a verb; (c)
_in_ or _out_ are commonly added to signal whether the direct object is the
replacement or the replacee, respectively, as in (3), and without them the
direction would not be obvious to some Americans. In Britain the direct
object is universally the player who is replaced, and _in/out_ are not used
with sporting _substitute_.

I have argued that standard usage of _substitute_ is unsupported by analogy
with other exchange verbs, and that the recent reversal from ?substitute
new for old? to ?substitute old for new? in young speakers of British
English, which is not (nearly so) characteristic of American English,
follows the introduction of tactical substitution in soccer, a consequent
frequent appearance of _substitute_ in a new register, and its alignment
with analogous verbs and with iconic principles. I have amended the draft
slightly to take account of the responses noted above. (And yes, my paper
also covers the long-attested and long-criticised ?substitute old with/by
new?. In addition to all this, there were discussions in October on the
American Dialect Society List, ADS-L, kindly forwarded to me by Arnold Zwicky.)

Peter Daniels argued that (3) does not contain the verb _substitute_ but a
denominal verb. I had doubted this, since the noun _substitute_ refers
unambiguously to the replacement player, and keen sports fans have told me
that (3) refers to those who might get taken out of play and replaced. But
I may have misunderstood his point. A couple of respondents argued that
substitution by its nature must refer to both the player(s) coming off and
the new one(s) going on. That?s true, of course, but the use of
_substitute_ , whether in sport or elsewhere, doesn?t need explicit mention
of all three possible arguments: the agent, the substitute, and the
replacee (for which I can find no convenient noun); I wanted to know which
of the latter two arguments was explicit in (3). Steve Keiser had the
?impression [?] that ''substitute'' is undergoing the same change in
American English as it is in British, at least in speech (e.g., sports
announcers). Though I'm wondering if we won't end up with both
subcategorizations possible.? That?s how it already seems to be for young

LL Issue: 15.3568
Date Posted: 22-Dec-2004
Original Query: Read original query


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