An irreplaceable void joins the much-needed gaps

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In purely linguistic terms, of course. Paul Kane, "‘Kind of an irreplaceable void’: GOP wonders if anyone can seize the McCain mantle", WaPo 8/28/2018:

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham tackled a question that many have asked since John McCain’s death Saturday: Who will fill the role of traditional conservative, particularly on national security, that has been held by the Arizona Republican for the past three decades? […]

“There’s no doubt he’s leaving a void, kind of an irreplaceable void,” Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) said Tuesday.

See "Too complex to avoid judgment?", 2/21/2004, "When adding is subtracting", 3/25/2014, and many of the other posts in our misnegation archive.

[h/t Julian Hook]



  1. cameron said,

    August 29, 2018 @ 7:09 pm

    I can think of all kinds of people who fill much needed voids in our society.

  2. Viseguy said,

    August 29, 2018 @ 7:13 pm

    IANAL, but is it misnegation or just a semantic brain fart (searching for something like "unfillable" or "permanent", but coming up short)? Just askin'….

  3. Viseguy said,

    August 29, 2018 @ 7:16 pm

    @cameron: Yes, like the current occupant of the Ovoid Office.

    (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

  4. Bill Benzon said,

    August 30, 2018 @ 3:52 am

    Will this void gap lead to a void race?

    How do we avoid a void deficit?

    A void in the hand is worth two in the bush.

  5. ajay said,

    August 30, 2018 @ 4:05 am

    “There’s no doubt he’s leaving a void, kind of an irreplaceable void,” Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) said Tuesday.

    Corrected to emphasise importance of the void in question:

    "I am in no doubt that nothing can fill this void that McCain's passing will occasion," said Dan Sullivan, a right-wing US politician from Alaska.

  6. Gabriel Holbrow said,

    August 30, 2018 @ 9:08 am

    Just to add a data point, "an irreplaceable void" seems absolutely acceptable for the intended meaning in my ideolect. An irreplaceable absence, or hole, or gap would also not be problematic for me, although the contradiction would more easily come to mind with some of these others. On the other hand, "a much-needed gap" is still unacceptable. Maybe " a much-needed gap" would be more acceptable to people who say "this gap needs filled"?

  7. Michael said,

    August 30, 2018 @ 12:05 pm

    I struggle to read it with anything but the intended meaning. I'm still not sure what's wrong with irreplaceable void. Is it not a void no one can replace? Can someone not replace a void that has replaced someone else? Is the definition of replace in my ideolect not the mainstream one? Is "He replaced the void left by X." not a grammatical sentence? Someone please help me out here.

  8. Kristian said,

    August 30, 2018 @ 12:49 pm

    One can easily find examples of people using "replaced the void" to mean "filled the void" instead of "created a new void to replace the old void".

  9. NSBK said,

    August 30, 2018 @ 8:17 pm

    I started off reading the sentence in question as a misnegation, perhaps explicitly biased by the post title. Now, after reading the comments so far, I can only read the sentence as totally okay.

    What is the linguistic version of an optical illusion? Specifically one where once you see (read) it one way, it is hard to see (read) it another way?

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