Sunday, April 29, 2012

Grammar Nazis

Grammar Nazis. Am I on the wrong side of a trend? Yes. Should anyone care in the slightest? Probably not. What is my infraction? Well I have done it in every sentence so far. That’s right, I’m the a-hole who puts two spaces after their sentences. And contrary to what I thought I was going to do (which was to set myself straight and conform to the trend) I am doubling down.

Why? Because I’m so tired of people being jerks about grammar and style. My bible for how to use the English language is Bill Bryson’s Mother Tongue. It states simply that grammarians and editors are wrong. The very nature of the language is that it is free flowing and the ‘rules’—especially the most esoteric ones—have little meaning beyond the preferences of people who see themselves as the last bastions of hope between a well-manicured language and chaos.

I assure you all that me putting two spaces after my sentences will not send the world into the fires of Hell. In fact, writers who address this openly acknowledge the stylistic motive for using one versus two spaces after a sentence. Slate had a scathing article about why to two was something to turn one’s nose up at. It’s visually more appealing. And sleeker. And it’ll get you laid. I added that last one.

If it is seriously stylistic, why is there so much debate and why is it so looked down upon? Because it’s just another way that one group can call themselves professional whilst poo-pooing another.

So why do people double-space at all? Well, it comes from mono-spaced typewriters. The letters all have equal horizontal width (monospaced) in these types of fonts and seeing sentence distinctions can be very difficult. To accommodate this, the trend of putting two spaces after a sentence was adopted. Modern fonts are rarely monospaced and distinguishing words and sentences is much easier.

It would stand to reason that in our modern Calibri, Times New Roman, Helvetica, Comic Sans world, the need for two post-sentence spaces is negligible. Au contraire, which is French by the way. I submit to the editorial world that two spaces continues to make sense because it is so easy to alter fonts to monospace. And then what happens? Articles that looked perfectly fine in Times New Roman have now unleashed chaos upon the world after converting to Courier.

The collapse of the written word is imminent the day that a computer virus converts all of our fonts. And the only legible texts will be the ones untouched by the self-righteous editors.

Or we can all just get over it and harbor no ill will toward each other and stop trying to stifle my style.