Friday, September 28, 2007

Covering Off the Coming of Words

One of the things I love about language is the emergence of new words and phrases. Recently my brother [who is more English than me, what with being born and raised and living there] started using the verb cover-off, as in "We need to cover off these items at our next meeting." And also, "I think all the important stuff has been covered off."I will stick my linguistic neck out here and venture to guess this verb is British in origin and spreading via the old Commonwealth trail. Google this -- agenda "cover off" items -- and I predict the top result will be at a UK web site. But not far down the list you will find the Canadians. I spotted this site at number three.
"Knowlton explains that she expects the meeting organizer to inform people in advance of the meeting objective and agenda, stay on track in the meeting, cover off the action items and clearly state what the outcome of the meeting is."

The site doesn't look particularly Canadian but dig around and you will find it is based out of Alberta. I expect to see 'cover off'' used in India soon, if not already, and definitely predict appearance in Microsoft documents very soon, thanks to a. the Vancouver/Redmond proximity, and b. it is a handy alternative to the two less universal expressions like 'check off'' and 'tick off.' [As you probably know, 'check the box' is American for 'tick the box' in England and other English-speaking places. The persistence of this difference in a world wide web of words is testament to the strength of regional language.]

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