We Are All Sinners

Writers have definite rules.  We have Commandments, as I illustrated a few posts ago.  Unfortunately, we also have heretics, sinners, apostates (not to be confused with apostrophe’s) and zealots.  It is easy to become one of the aforementioned because not only are the commandments constantly changing–what edition are we on the Chicago Style?–they also contradict each other.  This does not surprise anyone who studies scripture, but lets take a recent article by Slate Magazine Online in which the author says:

…people who use two spaces are everywhere, their ugly error crossing every social boundary of class, education, and taste. *  You’d expect, for instance, that anyone savvy enough to read Slate would know the proper rules of typing, but you’d be wrong; every third e-mail I get from readers includes the two-space error.

This is a type (get it, type?) of chronological snobbery.*  People trained for close to 40 years on typewriters are belittled and snarked at by little whippersnappers trained on computer keyboards (as the Slate author obviously is) or elitists who have always been able to afford computers.  It’s become a point of ridicule between Gen X and Millenials.

We could, as Gen X’ers (and those of you previous generations who laid the entire foundation for these ungrateful little bastards that make fun of your double spaces, even though you worked and sacrificed your entire lives to create such wonderful things as ‘computers’ and even wrote the first ‘how to write’ books), point out that the only people that complain about double spacing are those who don’t know how to use their find and replace function–who have not only accepted typos, but made them part of the main stream culture (ie: Pwned, teh, pron) and regularly use unacceptable shorthand (R u rdy 4 skool?) in their everyday correspondence with others– what was my point with this paragraph?  I forget.

Ah well.  I just want to point out that you snobs of the “Thou shalt use a single space after a period ending a sentence” doctrine forget that the commandment was (not so long ago) “Thou shalt use two spaces after a period.”  Don’t call me a heretic or a zealot because I have used two spaces after every period in this blog (which you probably can’t tell since it is delivered in HTML and formatted by the word processors at this site which Gen X’ers helped to develop so that you can piss, whine and moan about people using double spaces).

I freely admit we are all sinners.  All of us break some rules as writers. (Where did I put those holy commas and did I use my ellipsis correctly?).  Most of us break ALL the rules in daily life (composing text messages, quick email to friends, instant messages, conversations with friends who are not grammar nazi’s).  Even zealots break the commandments now and then.  The best thing for such sinners is to confess their sins and forsake them: Forgive me Father, I have sinned–I used a conjunction at the beginning of a sentence.  Until then, and only then (the moment that will never happen), we are all just hypocrites.

* Chronological snobbery, a term coined by friends C. S. Lewis and Owen Barfield, is a logical argument (and usually when thus termed, considered an outright fallacy) describing the erroneous argument that the thinking, art, or science of an earlier time is inherently inferior when compared to that of the present. — from Wikipedia.

4 thoughts on “We Are All Sinners

  1. It’s an interesting point you make. I never really understood the point of extreme grammar nazism. Why does it matter? I know it’s important to know what different punctuation means so you can convey your words how you hear them in your own head, but I don’t see any reason to always follow one particular standard. Like the MLA standard, why?
    It’s a just like what they say about art. All the new artists learn the rules of their trade. All the great artists break them.

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