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  1. #1
    suprunp's Avatar
    suprunp is offline Senior Member
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    mistrust of her sex *for*

    Then she read his letters again, all of them, several times; and now, reading between the lines indeed, she was puzzled to notice a change which had escaped her. The later letters were as tender and as delightful as the first, but the tone was different. She was vaguely suspicious of their humour, she had the instinctive mistrust of her sex for that unaccountable quality, and she discerned in them now a flippancy which perplexed her.
    (W.S. Maugham; The Fall of Edward Barnard)

    Is it possible to substitute 'for' with 'in','of' or 'towards/toward'?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Re: mistrust of her sex *for*

    BNC has a fair number of prepositions after 'mistrust':
    1 MISTRUST BETWEEN 7
    2 MISTRUST ON 3
    3 MISTRUST IN 3
    4 MISTRUST BY 2
    5 MISTRUST WITH 1
    6 MISTRUST TOWARDS 1
    7 MISTRUST THROUGH 1
    8 MISTRUST FROM 1
    9 MISTRUST FOR 1
    10 MISTRUST BECAUSE OF 1
    11 MISTRUST AT 1
    12 MISTRUST ABOUT 1
    But I think 'for' fits best here - especially not 'of' (because it would make the two 'of's work two ways. In
    Code:
     'the instinctive mistrust of her sex'
    'of' means 'typical/characteristic of [women]', but in
    Code:
    'mistrust...of that unaccountable quality' [
    'of' refers to the object of the mistrust.

    This substitution would result in a sort of Zeugma - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (I don't think it exactly fits the Wikipedia definition, but it's the nearest word I can think of for this figure of speech.)

    b

  3. #3
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    Re: mistrust of her sex *for*

    Thank you, BobK!

    But what if I used the two 'of's' in that sentence - would it just sound 'awful' or 'foreign', or would the reader be forced to stop and think over that passage?

    Thanks.

  4. #4
    BobK's Avatar
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    Re: mistrust of her sex *for*

    Quote Originally Posted by suprunp View Post
    Thank you, BobK!

    But what if I used the two 'of's' in that sentence - would it just sound 'awful' or 'foreign', or would the reader be forced to stop and think over that passage?

    Thanks.
    It wouldn't sound foreign - it just wouldn't be as clear as the original.

    b

  5. #5
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    Re: mistrust of her sex *for*

    "For" in "for that unaccountable quality" means "because of" in this context, in my view.

    Edit: Cf. Don Juan by Lord Byron: "Stolen kisses -- the sweeter for the theft."
    Last edited by konungursvia; 06-Feb-2012 at 16:43.

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