I have both praised and thumbed my nose at the AP Stylebook in Ninja Journalist - here and here. Now I get to thumb my nose at the faithful followers that believe the book is infallible. I never thought the day would come, but AP Stylebook announced it is now acceptable to use “over” referring to a greater numerical value and some writers are throwing themselves on their swords over the move.
Many believe you can’t say or write “The tickets cost over $50” or “There were over 500 people at the festival.” They believe “The tickets cost more than….” and “There were more than 500 people….” is the only correct way. The funny thing is, I have not heard a sensible reason why it must be that way.
Comments on social media show how incredulous some are at learning that AP has given in to the over with distraught cries such as “I may never get over this,” “No, no, no, NO!” and “Boo! Wasn’t expecting AP to dumb down.”
The argument is that “over” is a physical location. I say yes, and it is a numerical value as well.
How silly it would be for us in journalism to claim to be experts in the language of numbers, like numerologist, mathematics professors, scientists and bankers. Those professionals often use “over” in reference to a higher numeral value and they are the experts in numbers, not us and not the Associated Press.
When a banker has too much money represented on the sheets at the end of the day, they don’t say “We have a more-than-age.” No, it is an overage. An OVERage.
Consider this: The word “out” is a physical location. However, just like our special word “over,” “out” is numerical as well, such as “You are out of money” - the number of dollars you have is zero. Out is also used as an adverb, adjective and preposition. Surprise!
I used/wrote “more” when I could get away with it and when I became an editor-reporter I gleefully did every chance I could.
There are over 40 negative comments on the Face Book conversation I saw and only three positive ones, counting my own. My favorite is from Gary Kircherr of the Erie Times-News, saying “This crotchety bellyaching over the removal of a silly style rule that should never have been there in the first place exemplifies perfectly why copy editors are always the first newsroom employees to be laid off. You whiners are giving the rest of us a bad name. Get over it already.”
Indeed, Gary. They need to get OVER it.
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