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Over and out

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David Eanes writes:

"Have you noticed recently the use of the phrase 'run him over,' which I believe is a misuse of 'run over him'? I've heard it on the television news, and read it in the paper."

I have noticed, and since the expression sounds as odd to me as to Mr. Eanes, I nosed around for an authority or a rule saying that it's substandard. I didn't find one. I've always thought "The fire truck ran over her" was correct (the syntax, not the driving). Now we commonly see "The fire truck ran her over." I suppose it's a matter of personal preference, and of an older version being phased out by an alternative that's considered more fashionable, the way mic has replaced mike as the short form of microphone. "After his turn at the mic, the audience wanted to run him over."

For what it's worth, I'm reminded of a good old Western by Luke Short called "Ride the Man Down." "Ride Down the Man" wouldn't sound right.

 

They're It:

"The English language has lots of rules, but the one I dislike the most is assigning the personal pronoun 'it' when discussing animals. People are never referred to as 'it'. People pronouns are he or she, him or her and his or hers.

"Human beings are living, sentient creatures who think, feel pain and joy, interact with their environment and so much more. But wait – so are animals! Then why are animals considered an it?"

According to this Internet writer, PETA has asked the Associated Press to change its style "to reflect that animals are living beings and not inanimate objects." AP says that an animal is it unless the sex has been determined or it has a name, in which case he or she is used. (I'm not sure what they'd do with a dog named Chris or Pat.) The writer continues, "I would like to propose the pronoun 'it' should never be acceptable when referring to an animal, and that the substitution 's/he' become the norm."

So here's another controversy for me to avoid taking sides on. I like animals, but I'm not sure I can regard them as the equal of humans. If I did, I'd have to stop eating them.

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