How it goes
A correspondent wonders whether the constructions “he goes on to say” and “she went on to say” are appropriate in lengthy quotations. Wouldn’t “he continued” be preferable? Is “go” wrong here because they are speaking, not going? Isn’t this a form of “Valley speak” from the 1980s that we’re better off without?
Well, go is a protean verb, with senses that do not involve physical motion, so that need not be a problem.
“He goes on to say” and “she went on to say” are more conversational than “he continued,” which probably explains their appeal to reporters. They are a trifle wordy, and if writers overindulge in the construction, everything is going to start sounding like a codger sitting on the bench in front of the feed store.
But neither is an example of “Valley speak,” which would involve the substitution of the solitary “goes” for “says,” as in “Like, my boyfriend and me, we’re like at this bar? And I go, let’s get out of this dump, and he goes, I want to stay for another couple of rounds …”
You get the flavor. Don’t go there.
Tomorrow on the blog: The second thrilling installment of “GRAMMARNOIR 3: The wages of syntax,” will be posted sometime during the morning.