Marginal Revolution lead me on a series of clicks around the interweb. The kind of people who I assume think they will be better liked (respected?) for pointing out grammatical flaws were jumping on Google for the following:

Over 28,000 children drew doodles for our homepage.

Vote for the one that will appear here!

Here’s whats wrong with those two sentences that are clear and easy to understand:

The AP Stylebook says “over” is a way to move—a preposition. And “more than” must precede a number. Also, if you are voting for one, specific doodle, then the AP Stylebook tells you to use “which” rather than “that.”

I would like to point out that the person who wrote that (second link above) was arguing in her post that conveying ideas clearly is important and grammer isn’t. I think there is more to it than that. By taking the AP Stylebook, or any other ‘authority’ as the One True Source of grammer your treating writing as a process of following a set in stone list of rules. It isn’t. Well it is to a few people, who are missing the point of why we write and speak to one another. This is from the MR comments:

I was, misguidedly, a linguistics major as an undergraduate and the notion that language should be described as it is spoken, which is, “prescriptivism,” and not judged by a rigid set of rules, which is, “prescriptivism,” was a chief tenet of the discipline.

Language changes, it would be ridiculous to try and use the AP Stylebook in England in the 1700’s. It would tell me I’m completely wrong for saying I LOL’d so hard I lizzed myself last night. But everyone not living in a cave will understand. Well, lizzed may not be in the common vernacular yet, but it will be. I would argue that the ‘incorrect’ use of over on the Google page isn’t just okay because everyone knows what they mean. It’s correct because everyone who isn’t a grammar asshole uses ‘over’ that way. That makes it correct. Or does a guy who landed a job editing the AP Stylebook get to tell the rest of the world they’re wrong?

At this point, if Google says it’s okay doesn’t that pretty much make it right? Rant over.

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