Saturday, July 30, 2005


People who know me will identify me as a stickler according to the requirements laid out by Ms. Truss in Eats, Shoots & Leaves. Misspellings make my heart skip, ambiguous relative pronouns give me fits, and an ignorance of the difference between "there", "they're", and "their" makes me die a little on the inside. With all these ailments, it's no wonder I sound geriatric when bemoaning the lack of education when it comes to the English language.

My octogenarian view of the written world is my own though and is a direct consequence of being interested in words (and wrathful) as well as being an academic. There. I've revealed myself. I'm one of the condescending snobs tilting my nose up and blowing boogers at the hoi poloi from atop the ivory tower. Such childish activity from one who claims to be cultures and civilized, you might say, and rightly so. My petulance may be puerile but I stand by the essence of my annoyance: there is no reason for people to be lazy and not learn the difference between "it's" and "its".

I do believe that technologies like instant messaging has done much to blend the spoken with the written. I personally write what I say "in my head" when conversing through IM. That is, I hear the sounds I would make and then write them out. This kind of phonetic translation makes it easy to mix "it's" and "its" or "their" and "there". Typos and mistakes are glossed over on IM but they should not be adopted as a standard. How many times have I seen mistakes on documents, advertisements, and even official letters!

In the end, my beef with such matters is trivial. I can not turn the tide of the transformation of the English (American) language. I am but a speck. An annoyed and sometimes amused speck.

And now, for something slightly different:
It's not "its"!
"It's." Not "its"!
"Its." Not "it's"!
It's no tits.
Its "no" tits.