"by the each" again

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Aug 1 02:38:39 UTC 2014

A week or so ago Trader Joe's was recalling stone fruits from 
California due to the possibility they were contaminated with 
Listeria monocytogenes.  The posted notice at the checkout counter 
said for a list of various stone fruits "Sold Individually (by the 
each)."  (Some other fruits were said to have been sold not by the 
each but in "4LB Boxes.")

Today, I see the same wording is on their web site:

Looking back to February and Arnold's blog --

The suggested explanations of "a not very sophisticated computer 
program for making the labels" and "a failure to change the settings 
on the label printer properly" can't I think apply to text on a web 
site followed by a list of items, but rather must be created by 
humans.  Although I suppose there might be macros within the 
computers of the customer-updates minions that speed up typing the 
"by the ..." text.

The gloss "by the each" is as though it is an explanation of the 
phrase "sold individually," although the latter seems likely to be 
more widely understood than the former.  In any case, using both 
phrases together removes any possible ambiguity that a shelf label 
advertising price might have.

If it had been a regionalism, Trader Joe's may have made it viral via 
its 418 stores across the U.S. (as of 16 May 2014).


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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