Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

The Battle Is ‘Over’

The world hasn’t come to an end, but for many of us it has tipped over.

The AP Stylebook capitulated to mindless, repetitious use of the word “over” as a substitute for the grammatically correct and elegant sounding “more than.”

Golden ArchesHowever, persistent misuse, especially by ad writers, Twitter users and the Golden Arches of McDonald’s, broke down the will of AP.

It begs the question of what’s next? “Me and Barack Obama were just walking around in the Rose Garden.” “Her and I are best friends.” “My thesis centers around how volcanos explode.”

Humans invented language to communicate. Then came discipline so we could stand each other when we did communicate.

As a lover of language, I admire how English has evolved through centuries to capture foreign words, new discoveries and advancing technology. English is versatile enough to absorb fresh turns of phrase and accept verbs minted from nouns. But sometimes change goes too far, you could say “over the top.”

“Over” is a fabulous word for describing “jumping over the mulberry bush” or “falling in love with you all over again.” “Over” has plenty of chances to enter our daily conversation, emails and text messages without being used as a substitute for the more precise “more than.”

It apparently is inevitable that “Under $500” will be blessed as acceptable, nudging “less than” and “fewer than,” respectively, that much closer to disuse and ultimately obscurity.

Sadly, few will mourn this moment of retreat. Some will see it as a natural path toward simpler speech, clearing out the linguistic weeds of the past. There may be a couple of grammarian coronary episodes, but they will survive, no doubt with less resolve to admonish their grammatically challenged students.

For me, I will continue my use of “more than” and limit use of “over” to those applications where it is most suited. “I just flipped out over your latest body piercing.”  “I simply can’t get over how great you look in chartreuse.”

This whole foul episode explains why as you age your hearing diminishes. We imagine hearing loss results from failing ear drums or earwax build-up. Maybe when you get older, you just decide to shut out some sound and hear less.

What’s that you say? I can save “over $500 if I buy a 3-ton, gas-guzzling, airplane-towing pickup truck,” I can’t hear you. Over and out.

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2 comments on “The Battle Is ‘Over’

  1. Les AuCoin
    March 27, 2014

    I’ll never get over this.

  2. Les AuCoin
    March 27, 2014

    … and I’m “eager,” not “anxious,” to put this genie back in the bottle.

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