"I am an idealistic, naive, passionate, truth-seeking, spiritually motivated artist, unschooled in the science of law and finance." --Wesley Snipes

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Somebody shares one of my top grammatical pet peeves:

"based off of"

and here:

Off base


What's interesting to me about this term is that it really does seem to be fairly recent--about as old as the now-no-longer-odd phenomenon of folks on the street talking on cellphones outnumbering those of us who prefer to simply walk on the street, saving our phonetalking for when we are in the home or office.

I taught my first undergraduate course in 1999. It's only in the last couple of years that I've begun to notice that nearly EVERY undergrad paper I look at contains this gaffe. And I'm not a prescriptivist, per se, but this just seems odd to me. How did it happen? How did it become nearly standard usage (at least among undergrad college students) in such a short time?


julie said...

Ooooo... a new grammatical pet peeve! I haven't heard that one (at least, not that I can remember). Now that you have brought it to my attention, it annoys me and I will likely notice it all the time.

Jonathan said...

One I'm getting a lot is "over," as in "What is this paper over?" At first I didn't understand what was meant. (What topic should the paper address.) It seemed to be a slippage from thinking about an exam. An exam can cover a certain amount of material and thus be "over" something.

Anthony Robinson said...

compare to Spanish "sobre"--which can mean both "over" and "about," no?

Jonathan said...

Sure, and the English preposiition "on" can also mean both "over" and "about." That doesn't mean they're interchangeable.

Jonathan said...

On the other hand, that Boston Globe article was based "off of" a kind of fallacy: that a prepositional usage most form a logical "picture" in the mind. Based off of is uncceptable in formal writing because it is too new a usage to have gained acceptance, not because it is inherenty illogical (which it might be, but so what? so are a lot of things people write and say that are perfectly acceptable.)