Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Theere'll Always be an England

After leaving London and renting my car I became quite a radio listener and one of the stories dominating the airwaves in the first few days was the offensive from pedants against Tesco's express lane labeling - "10 Items or Less".
Tesco has caved and will now use the label "Up to 10 Items". I actually heard someone on the radio concerned that it was not clear from this whether the limit was 9 or 10 items.
Oh dear.
And of course, the Language Log team are all over this one - you can start here.
Like me, the Language Log guys lean away from prescriptive grammar (as the 'rules' are rarely followed in any universal way by good writers in the language).
SillyWife is a believer in maintaining the less/fewer distinction, and I can understand this as an investment in a hard lesson learning English as a second language. My host in Scotalnd was firm that 'less' was utterly wrong.
I could perhaps sign up or such a position if I knew of a single possible sentence disambiguated by using the distinction between the continuous and the discrete, which is what the prescriptivists seem to think makes the difference.

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