“Off” again

December 8th, 2010
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” … the Liberals lost the GTA seat of Vaughan to the Conservatives and won Winnipeg North off the NDP” -

Toronto Star columnist, Chantal Hébert

This space has typically gone easy on non-native English speakers, and this will be no exception. However Ms. Hébert is a long-time national opinion writer, and this deserves comment, if only to underscore – yet again – the disappearance of anything resembling editing from modern journalism. Further on in the same piece we see the very similar: “The fact is that the Liberals did not take a single vote off the Conservatives on Monday.”

I guess it’s a relief she didn’t write “off of” in each case, as we might have said back in the school yard – “I won 10 hockey cards off of Georgie.” Fortunately, she eases into more correct usage later in the piece, writing “Ignatieff cannot hope to make up for the loss of thousands of Liberal votes to the Conservatives by siphoning off the smaller NDP pool”. Fair enough.

It’s sad that a fine, simple word like “from” was shunned. Shame on the Toronto Star for not providing perhaps their best columnist with the courtesy of an edit!

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By John Weissenberger