Pet Peeves

>> Tuesday, April 27, 2010

You know, I never thought of myself as an old fogey. Still, I'm starting to feel like I am.

See, there are some things that have happened since the stone ages when I took grammar that have completely changed the world when I wasn't looking.

And I don't like 'em.

Like this. When I was in high school, you put two spaces after a sentence. Now, apparently, it's just one. When did that happen?

Or the shortened form of "until." When I was a kid, it was 'til. Till was something you did to soil. Now, till is everywhere (I suspect as a side effect of spellcheckers who automatically put one for the other).

English vs. American spelling is killing me, too. I grew up reading both English and American literature. Honour, endeavour, dialogue, grey - that's how I automatically spell them. But they are dismissed more often then not.

So, if you need me, I'll be sitting on my front porch, practicing shaking my cane at young whippersnappers traipsing across my lawn and remembering the good old days when I used to know the rules.


  • Project Savior

    I had a worse situation I was a double major with one being English writing, back in 1985 when Mac came out with a real word processor. Before then every professor had their own rules, some preferred the English some hated it, some would mark you off for writing trying instead of "trieing", and others the opposite. When Mac came out with the word processor Steve Jobs rules of spelling were set in stone and professors who didn't like it banned papers done on the word processors. So for the spelling challenged like me,I would have to do my papers on the Mac then use that to type it out on the typewriter.

  • Jeff King


    Isn’t it the truth, good thing I didn't know much before, so I am learning all over again and the past doesn’t hinder my ability to learn... since I really never learned it nor understood it.

    But I do feel your pain to a degree.

  • The Mother

    The second space after the sentence was abandoned when word processors developed the ability to auto-kern.

    My pet peeve is the absence of ADVERBS from the English language. ACK!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Like Stephanie, I grew up with the old rules. I learned one doesn't split infinitives with adverbs, such as "to boldly go." However, old fart that I am, I have also learned that wisdom trumps knowledge and that the original, and most important, purpose of language is simply to communicate our thoughts and feelings in the manner most appropriate for the intended audience.

    Thus, I find it acceptable now to use more slang, such as 'nuff said, 'natch, and [cringing somewhat] dude, if that is the most effective usage at the time. It also makes language fun and interesting. Yet I still wince from mistakes in "it's" vs "its" or "than" vs "then" in other people's writings and, yes, I always use two spaces after a sentence!

    Moreover, with the advent of e-mail, and worse still, texting, I suspect we will see, and perhaps succumb to using, more abbreviated words and phrases (lol, etc.) as we fade into the twilight.

    Our grandparents likely would think the same of us, though. They used to write actual "letters" using "cursive" writing style. My grandfather's letters (from the 1920s) would always begin, "I hope this letter finds you well." I have to force myself to explain to my young children why it is good to learn cursive, that they will use it when they older. Other than for signatures, who uses cursive anymore? It's a dying art.

    Mike Hawthorne

  • Stephanie Barr

    The Mother, do you mean that you miss when adverbs were considered a reasonable thing in literature? Yeah, me too.

    I'm more laid back in certain things, too. I've even used "ain't" on occasion. But I have to admit I don't like changing the rules to appease the word processing "Gods." It's the principle of the thing.

  • The Mother

    Adverbs, in general. As in, the days when newscasters said, "They're going quickly" instead of "they're going quick."

    I spent my entire children's lives hammering adverbs into their little bitty brains. Now they correct me. I guess I did something right.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, and just for the record, while I also learned that "'til" is the abbreviation for "until," the usage of "till" has been around a while.  In fact, "till" (12th century) predates the compound word "until" (13th century); thus, "till" is technically not an abbreviation.  

    It's even in the Declaration of Independence!

    Notwithstanding my useless history lesson, I do agree with the gist of your blog.  And I figured out how to add two spaces after sentences in your blog comments.

    Mike Hawthorne

  • Stephanie Barr

    Oh, sure, I can't even get my pet peeves right.

    I should just go back to bed.

  • flit

    Word processors definitely have had a huge influence on people's use of grammar. Sure wish they'd build in correction for kids' use of then and than - that one drives me NUTS!

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