My worthy colleague Craig Lancaster has taken violent exception at his blog, Watch Yer Language, to the word some as a synonym for about as an adverb modifying a number. A construction like some three dozen copy editors work in the newsroom would make his flesh creep.
Flesh also creeps on The Sun’s copy desk, judging from the red slashes marking that construction on our page proofs.
Never having been troubled by the usage myself, I’m curious about the origin of this distaste. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage takes no exception to it, citing examples from James Thurber and the Times Literary Supplement.
It locates objection only to the word used with exact rather than approximate numbers. One of the most notable objectors is Theodore Bernstein, who in The Careful Writer mocks the sentence “Some 35,683 attended the races at Acqueduct.” But even he says, “When used before a figure, some means approximately or more or less,” without objection.
Perhaps the distaste for the word comes from dislike of a separate usage, the rural colloquial she feels some better, spilling over into a different context. Or perhaps some copy editors, always wanting to be particularly careful, extended Bernstein's stricture to all such usages.
I’m inclined to add some for about to my rapidly growing list of Things Not Worth Bothering About.