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Are journalists everywhere morethanreacting?
March 21, 2014 6:58 AM   Subscribe

The AP Stylebook as dropped the distinction between "over" and "more than." Journalists everywhere appear to be outraged. Others think it is no big deal. Dictionaries tend to agree.
posted by grumpybear69 (56 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is an indignation up with which I will not put!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:01 AM on March 21 [4 favorites]


Get more than it, nerds.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:03 AM on March 21 [42 favorites]


If some journalists think it's no big deal, then the outraged ones can't be "everywhere," can they?

(Now someone else correct me!)
posted by painquale at 7:03 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


What about under/less than?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:05 AM on March 21


This baffles me over words can say.
posted by jquinby at 7:06 AM on March 21 [17 favorites]


What about under/less than?

Add "fewer" into that mix and you'll have a mutiny on your hands.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:07 AM on March 21 [6 favorites]


That's not what "outrage" from journalists looks like. That's what good-natured but impassioned nerdery from journalists looks like.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 7:07 AM on March 21 [11 favorites]


‘More than my dead body!’

Does not refer to a quantity, but it made me chuckle over most quips.
posted by three blind mice at 7:07 AM on March 21 [2 favorites]


Meh.
Wake me when they decide to kill-off the over-use of impact/impacted for affect/affected/effect. That will be real news.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:10 AM on March 21 [2 favorites]


Over tens of people are rioting outside my office at this very moment.
posted by odinsdream at 7:11 AM on March 21 [6 favorites]


What's the more than/under that this will turn out well?
posted by three blind mice at 7:13 AM on March 21


Well, this is going to get even more out of hand, isn't it?
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 7:15 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


Officials also stated that an innocent 35-year-old passerby who found himself caught up in a long-winded dispute over use of the serial, or Oxford, comma had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

As one does.
posted by bonehead at 7:16 AM on March 21 [5 favorites]


Over this, you know there's nothing.
Over this, tell me one thing.
Over this, ooh there is nothing.

posted by pmbuko at 7:20 AM on March 21 [10 favorites]


I hear they are going to combine two/too/to since no student can be bothered to know the difference.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:24 AM on March 21 [2 favorites]


I hear they are going to combine two/too/to since no student can be bothered to know the difference.

I hear what your saying.
posted by Fizz at 7:29 AM on March 21 [4 favorites]


Someone needs to be blasted more than this. I'll blast the lot of them.
posted by RollingGreens at 7:29 AM on March 21


Just because the AP dropped the distinction doesn't mean I have to.

The best reaction to this I read was on Twitter: I, for one, welcome our new AP "more than"-lords. — @superjaberwocky
posted by brentajones at 7:30 AM on March 21 [8 favorites]


The Oxford dictionary link is to the British English version, and this has never been a thing over here.

But the American Oxford version doesn't remove the example of what I gather to be the previously-wrong usage: "over 40 degrees C", which should be "more than 104 degrees"
posted by doiheartwentyone at 7:39 AM on March 21


So long as we retain the distinction between "less" and "fewer," I could care less.
posted by Iridic at 7:57 AM on March 21


GAME MORE THAN Prescriptivists!
posted by srboisvert at 8:00 AM on March 21 [8 favorites]


Before my demise, I expect the distinction of "its" and "it's" to be abandoned-- my money is on an apostrophe being used for both since that's the error I see more often. Were I to cite a basis for such a prediction, it would be witnessing the subjunctive "were" all but disappear from popular writing.

I read a lot about overly prescriptive concerns from young people empowered with a little study of linguistics and am not immune to the appeals. Pynchon using "sez" for "says" all through Gravity's Rainbow impressed me when I was younger. But, I suspect the issue is that writing is hard work and it's tempting to assert, as often as possible, our expressions aren't littered with oversights and ambiguities.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 8:01 AM on March 21


I'm going to hold off on making an opinion about this until someone can explain it in terms of the strippers, JFK and Stalin.
posted by Skwirl at 8:01 AM on March 21 [2 favorites]


This is very concerning.
posted by lathrop at 8:05 AM on March 21


It's worth noting that Strunk and White don't bother with the distinction between over and more than, but they do explain the difference between fewer and less. The style rule on more than vs over comes from the same place, the difference between number and quantity, which can seem a very fine distinction. For example, I thought all of the sentences presented by the Oxford site were correct as "over" constructions, because they referred not to a number of objects but to a level expressed by a number. "Over 250 degrees" sounds correct to me. But "thanks to his birthday haul my son now has more than 250 marbles" rightly shuns "over."
Let me say, too, that as a writer and editor, I despise the AP for rather arbitrarily deciding that "back yard" is now one word, that "under way" is now one word, even if those have become common usages. Changing the nature of words changes their meaning too, and even if those changes are slight, they are not to be undertaken as lightly as the AP seems to do.
posted by walter lark at 8:05 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


The style rule on more than vs over comes from the same place, the difference between number and quantity

Really? I thought the rule was that "more than" referred to quantity and "over" referred to physical position. I always thought it was a pretty dumb rule.
posted by zixyer at 8:08 AM on March 21


my money is on an apostrophe being used for both since that's the error I see more often.

Down with the tyranny of apostrophes!
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:10 AM on March 21


I don't like this.

And with that, I add two points to my curmudgeon jacket. May its tweed grow staid and frilly while I maintain my abstract staunchness.
posted by flippant at 8:16 AM on March 21


Surprised any journalist has time to worry about this, what with trying to fill wall-to-wall coverage of how a missing airplane was eaten by a black hole.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:21 AM on March 21 [2 favorites]


Surprised any journalist has time to worry about this, what with trying to fill wall-to-wall coverage of how a missing airplane was eaten by a black hole.

Distinctions like this help a journalist save time because she doesn't have to waste time thinking about what word to use.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 8:25 AM on March 21


The style rule on more than vs over comes from the same place, the difference between number and quantity

Really? I thought the rule was that "more than" referred to quantity and "over" referred to physical position. I always thought it was a pretty dumb rule.


Yeah the AP styleguide used to say that over "refers to spatial relationships: the plane flew over the city. More than is preferred with numerals: Their salaries went up more than $20 a week.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 8:29 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


Down with the tyranny of apostrophes!

Let me fix that for you:

"Down" with the "tyranny" of apostrophe's!

BETTER.
posted by jquinby at 8:42 AM on March 21 [2 favorites]


Nappa: Vegeta, what does the scouter say about his power level?
Vegeta removes his scouter and crushes it.
Vegeta: It's over 9000!
Nappa: What, "over"? There's no way that can be right! Isn't it "more than"?
posted by demiurge at 9:12 AM on March 21 [7 favorites]


We need some kind of go-to term for the posts that inevitably pop up in response to copyediting disputes like this... a term that would be the equivalent of a Godwin.

You know what I mean.

Any time a style guide makes a change to reflect a long-established change in modern usage, or to remove some kind of arbitrary rule, it's only a matter of several posts before someone chimes in saying that soon we're all going to be telling people to "keep you're comments in your pocket" or exclaiming "your tearing me apart, Lisa."

It's the copyeditor equivalent of "well, soon we're all going to be in Nazi Germany," or "well, soon I guess we'll all be marrying our dogs and practicing bestiality."
posted by Old Man McKay at 9:32 AM on March 21 [3 favorites]


I could care fewer. But I don't.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:52 AM on March 21


> Wake me when they decide to kill-off the over-use of impact/impacted for affect/affected/effect. That will be real news

Yes, that would be good.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:57 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


Before my demise, I expect the distinction of "its" and "it's" to be abandoned

I'm all for keeping grammatical and usage rules when they can legitimately avoid or reduce the likelihood of confusion. But I find it difficult to imagine a sentence where use of its for it's, or vice versa, would create any actual confusion about the writer's intended meaning.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:45 AM on March 21


Tempest, meet teapot.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:01 AM on March 21


Hopefully, there are over five or six protests underway.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:50 AM on March 21


This thread is comprised of horrible grammatically incorrect errors, which are very disorientating to me.
posted by Kokopuff at 12:04 PM on March 21


This thread is comprised of horrible grammatically incorrect errors, which are very disorientating to me.

Hey there, you missed a comma between "horrible" and "grammatically."
posted by mudpuppie at 12:18 PM on March 21 [3 favorites]


> "But I find it difficult to imagine a sentence where use of its for it's, or vice versa, would create any actual confusion about the writer's intended meaning."

I always see these as a challenge. Hmm ...

First, I'll kill everyone in the mining company's office building, and then, its mine.
First, I'll kill everyone in the mining company's office building, and then, it's mine.
posted by kyrademon at 12:33 PM on March 21 [15 favorites]


Strong Bad covered how to figure out the apostrophe in it's ages ago.

If you want its to be possessive
It's just I-T-S
Buf if you want to be a contraction
Then it's I-T-apostrophe-S

Scalawag.

posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:40 PM on March 21


more than the hills and far away

more than the river and through the woods

over this

over a feeling

more than under sideways down

over a woman

more than the rainbow

more than and more than

...

its beginning to look a lot like christmas
posted by freecellwizard at 1:00 PM on March 21


I always see these as a challenge.

That's how it was intended.

First, I'll kill everyone in the mining company's office building, and then, its mine.
First, I'll kill everyone in the mining company's office building, and then, it's mine.


Hey, not bad. Although I had to read the first one a few times (What? You'll kill everyone in the office building, and then you'll kill the mine? How do you kill a mine?) until I got it (oh, you'll kill everyone in the office building, then you'll kill everyone in the mine.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:04 PM on March 21


Yeah, there would probably have been less ambiguity if I'd gone with "buy" rather than "kill everyone in", but I am a sucker for the drama.
posted by kyrademon at 2:30 PM on March 21


The rule for its vs. it's isn't hard: Possessive pronouns don't get apostrophes, the end.

my, mine | your, yours | his, his | her, hers | our, ours | their, theirs | its, its

(There is one exception, but it can be sidestepped easily enough by avoiding excessive formality in one's words.)
posted by Sys Rq at 3:11 PM on March 21 [2 favorites]


Well, some of y'all's informal usages might need to be avoided too (depending on where y'all are from.)
posted by kyrademon at 3:45 PM on March 21 [3 favorites]


The whole comprises the parts, dammit, and the parts compose the whole.
posted by limeonaire at 4:36 PM on March 21 [1 favorite]


Well, some of y'all's informal usages might need to be avoided too (depending on where y'all are from.)

That's your guys's problem.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:45 PM on March 21 [1 favorite]


Look, English, if we can at least hold the line on "Selfie" meaning "A picture of myself I took myself" rather than the "An image of a/some human(s)" it seems to be hurtling towards, then go full Riddley Walker at this point if you like, see if I care.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:16 AM on March 22 [1 favorite]


I want to know who decided that "a couple times" was equal to "a couple OF times". My pet peeve.
posted by estuardo at 7:38 PM on March 22


I am so over you.
I am so more than you.

Werks for ego involved breakups.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:28 PM on March 23


The whole comprises the parts, dammit, and the parts compose the whole.

No. Not for 200 years.
posted by Mental Wimp at 6:03 PM on March 23


The whole comprises the parts, dammit, and the parts compose the whole.

No. Not for 200 years.


AP Stylebook says yes.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 7:54 AM on March 25


AP Stylebook says yes.

But dictionaries and usage say no.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:47 AM on March 25


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