In last month’s Writing Magazine, Michael Legat wrote a short paragraph talking about two phrases that are in common use: “north of” and “grow”. He noted how their use has changed and you now hear them in sentences such as “He earns north of one hundred thousand” or in terms of “growing your investment”.
He posed a question to ask if we really need “north of” or “grow” in these contexts when there are already perfectly functional words such as “more than” and “increase”?
For me, it isn’t about a need for these words more than it is about enlivening language. Using “north of” and “grow” gives a much more exciting and visual image to what you’re trying to convey. Especially when you’re talking about something as dull as salaries and investments!
So I’m not sure I really see this as a language change, but more of a language growth or evolution where people are improving their conversations with more visual and colourful terminology. Perhaps this points to people being more aware of their language’s capabilities and I definitely can’t see that as a bad thing!