Monday, August 30, 2010

More on "versus"

I am more convinced that versus is an English coordinator and that, perhaps, it has never been a preposition. For one thing, I can only find three examples of versus X used as a complement. The first two are here:
In truth, however, precisely nowhere does man today any longer encounter himself, i.e., his essence.... " (n12) BEING VERSUS AMERICA # A profound gulf between Heidegger and Tocqueville becomes obvious as soon as we compare their views on America. (from "Tocqueville's Practical Reason", by Hancock, Ralph. Perspectives on Political Science Fall 98, Vol. 27 Issue 4, p. 212.)
The redox behaviour of 1,2- and 1,3-dithiadiazoles (D), with a wide variety of R substituents has been studied by using cyclic voltammetry (CV) Most of the compounds (D) behave as reversible redox systems. Typical half-wave reduction potentials for 1,2 compounds are versus the standard calomel electrode (SCE) while those for the 1,3-isomers are 0.2V. (from the BNC; not sure about the original source)
The first one is rather hard to parse, and I'm not sure it's relevant. The second strikes me as ungrammatical. I'll get to the third below. I might turn up more examples with more searching, but none of the examples from the OED, or any of the other dictionaries I've checked, show a complement use.

Nor can I find much evidence of it being modified. I did find one example of this is just versus a computer, which is also a complement. And another example modified with just and functioning as an adjunct.
The cloth spider is lossy and this inherent loss results in hysteretic behavior with respect to reaction force versus displacement. Hysteretic refers to changing behavior of the spider, not just versus displacement but also the direction of the displacement (Fig. 1).
In general, then, versus doesn't behave very much like a preposition, and I would speculate that it this is not a new development.

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