Enough about climate change; what about language change?
"1. Crime, adopted from OF-F, derives from L crimen, *that which serves to sift (hence, to decide), decision, esp a legal one, hence an accusation, finally the object of the accusation—the misdeed itself, the crime ... "The next day a sentence came to my attention in which a buyer "could not ... pay the ... price tag" for an item, emphasis mine.
Now, reporters love to write price tag for price, presumably because they think it gives their writing colloquial zing. The affectation is superfluous, except in such constructions as this:
"Juventus slap £53m price tag on Man United, City, Chelsea and Arsenal target Paul Pogba."There, slap works with price tag to create a vivid image. The examples I generally remove from the stories, though, are on the order of:
"Finally, there's a paragraph that amounts to an explanation of just what makes for a $24 hamburger, the price tag for Harvey's product."in which tag is unnecessary, but easily removed with damage neither to the sentence's rhythm or sense nor to the writer's pride. But "pay the price tag" suggests a shift, in which the writer imagines tag, rather than price, as the object of pay.
"Pay the price tag" is painful to me, but then, the writer in question may have seen few price tags in her life and, with the spread of online shopping, will likely see even fewer in the future. It is not out of the question that in five, 50, or 100 years, the tag in price tag will lose any relevance to what people see every day. But that does not mean the word will disappear. It could ease into a new function, the way crime acquired its current meaning. In five, 50, or 100 years, literate speakers and readers, if any of the latter remain, may speak without embarrassment of "paying the price tag" or even "paying the tag." But not as long as I have any say in the matter.
© Peter Rozovsky 2014