What’s With This “Over At” Stuff?

Nuances of language. The fine touch here, the slight rephrasing there … that interests me.

For example: the use of the "over at" phrase.

The annoying person on the phone, who had weaseled past our receptionist but was just cold calling selling stocks, identified himself as "John Doe over at XYZ." Not "John Doe of XYZ brokerage." Am I crazy, or is that just another subtle spin on reality?  That change to "over at XYZ" sounds like he’s just across the street, at some close and familiar place, instead of the stiff and formal — but correct — "John Doe of XYZ brokerage."

I don’t mind "over at" the way it gets used in blogs, mentioning Steve King "over at Biz Labs," or "Pam Slim over at Cubicle Nation."

But with the cold caller selling stocks, I notice the nuance. It’s not just random, it’s studied and practiced.

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