I read in The Age newspaper's Odd Spot today that Tesco, the British supermarket chain, is to change their quick-service lane sign from 'ten items or less' to 'up to 10 items'.
It seems the grammar police have won a small victory. I say, thank goodness Tesco didn't opt for 'Ten items or fewer'.
Fewer might be the more correct word, but it's a mouthful.
All this reminds me of something I read in David Crystal's book, The Fight for English. He says it's easier to control written language than to make spoken language conform. However, that's not a bad thing, because when you're speaking to someone you have the opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings on the spot, but written language has to function without feedback from the reader.
I can't recall the last time I used the word fewer. I think it's gone from my vocabulary.
Uh, oh. I hope they don't come after me for assisting in the disappearance of a useful and precise word from everyday speech.