I can punctuate however I want. to.

Posted on April 21, 2008. Filed under: HowTo, Musings, Philosophy |

I’m having an attack of typoitis. One of my few remaining faults (I only have four, now πŸ˜‰ ) is persnicketiness. Many books and articles these days leave the editing process with a lot of incorrect word usage. Everything is spelled correctly because it’s been through a spell checker, but as we all know these don’t check whether we’re using the wrong word altogether.

The words that drive me craziest are among the most common: “I don’t know when your going to the store, but don’t forget to take you’re coat.”

“See the frog jumping across it’s lily pond, where its nice and cool and green.”

“Will you go along, to? I don’t know how too get there.”

The first, in this last sentence is more common then the last. (Oops, their went another one! I heard you ask if there going to tell us when we get they’re. They told me it wouldn’t be than, but later.)

You get the idea. What bugs me about why this bugs me is that I don’t give a fig about wordy run-on sentences like this one having very little punctuation making you wonder if it’s ever going to end or go on and on until you don’t want to read the rest of this post. Or fragments such as this. Other grammatical liberties don’t bother me much either, as long as they literately express a consistent tone and quality. An infinitive is a wonderful thing to split!

I tend to see these little usage violations as expressions of my creative style. Punctuation? Forget about it. I put in commas and question marks where I please, and I reserve the right to be inconsistent about how and when I close parentheses, and whether within or without the final punctuation.

I do a flip-flop when it comes to spelling and word usage, though. I judge these things as more illiterate (there’s a phrase for you!) than the other errors I mentioned. We’re told that Shakespeare got to spell any way he pleased, so we should be able to do the same, right? My inner editor says “No! Wrong! Bad!” There is also the issue of typographical errors. These occur when our fingers move quickly over the keyboard (or thoughts move quickly over the mind), and we make some of those “your or you’re” or “to or too” errors even though we know perfectly well what the correct word should be. A common slip is to type “you” when we mean “your” and “and” when we mean “an”. I attribute these last to our fingers choosing to type the word that’s more frequently used. I forgive a limited number of these in casual writing such as blog posts. I even often forgive myself for these, πŸ˜‰ but they still tend to mock me when I notice them later: “Hah, you think you’re so smart going around blogging all day, and then you put too many letters in mee.”

You may have seen this floating around in emails or blogs:

Can you read this? Olny srmat poelpe can!

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm.

Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? And I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Obviously, slpeling isn’t ipmorantt, so why am I so annoyed about wrong word usage? Nothing about this bothers me more than when I, myself, use the wrong word, which I did a couple of days ago in a blog comment. I was up late at night, I was “tired but wired” as I often am after a busy and active day, and I made more than one of these errors. The second was in an attempt to correct the first! I felt dorky and illiterate, but fortunately my friend sulz graciously decided to let me know about my first typo, allowing me then to come back and make the second. πŸ™‚ They turned into a rather humorous couple of comments. They really were typos, and not misspellings! I know which word to use in those situations, honestly! That’s my story and I’m sticking two it. πŸ˜•

Disclaimer: I claim no moral, legal or philosophical responsibility for any errors in the above blog post. If such are found they are due to (pick your favorite, I assure you it will be true): a. fatigue; b. the recent full moon; c. alien intervention.

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29 Responses to “I can punctuate however I want. to.”

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hahaha, it’s like 5 something in the morning here and i lol-ed at some bits of your post. you know you’re funny when my grumpy self laughs at this time of the day! πŸ˜€

typos, misspellings, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for it even though we’re supposed to be ‘better’ than the ‘more illiterate’ because look at the amount of typing we do online! of course we’re going to make a mistake or two. we’re uhamn, for godoness’s seak!

I think my tendency to capitalize, punctuate, and form complete sentences is in itself an expression of style, in that I intentionally distinguish myself from certain peers of mine who type in internet shorthand. (After all, who needs “your”/”you’re” when you can just use the catch-all “ur” instead?) There’s definitely a sort of self-awareness of my comparative neuroticism and perfectionism in there somewhere, that’s juxtaposing itself in the inherent laziness and laid-back attitude in netspeak. Or something.

I’ve been typoing all over the place lately. My basic rule as of this moment is anyone who uses the word “persnicketiness” is entitled to at least 3 free typos a day. More if they are as much fun as you are. As for Shakespeare vs. your inner editor, I believe the correct response is β€œNo! Wrong! Bard!”

Tee hee. Chow!

I ‘normally’ proof read before I hit publish, and the things I call myself when the published stuff hits the site, OHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I once, really, really did, hit myself over the head when I did it. We should have the edit option as we type on peoples blogs!

But yep, Muse – I too get a little narked when people insist on typing ‘then’ when they mean than! As much as with ‘to’ instead of too!

Thank the Lord for spell-checker on Firefox, though. πŸ™‚

u no wut. i could care less how some1 spellz. i do not want 2 bee the writing police. i don’t knead to be corrected either. if u can’t handle it, don’t read me.

luv ur post πŸ™‚


Hi Muse, this is great because I am in the middle of pondering correct usage of punctuation after / before parenthesis, and with commas my way around that often is to do this…..am sure it really bugs a lot of people but it helps me express myself and some people on my quilting groups are now copying me…..older ones like me that is.

I too have a thing about correct spelling and that thing from Cambridge University actually hurt my head and eyes ….so obviously the human mind only needs the first and last letter in the right place but surely it slows things down considerably and that is a factor in workplaces and schools.

I am with Ronnie Anne, anyone who can put persnicketiness in a blog about incorrect word usage is allowed as many typos as he/she wants and as many lapses in punctuation as she/he deems creative license allows!

Really enjoyed this….. please keep up the typos…..it makes for great blog fodder!

Hey, if I can get you going at 5 in the morning, sulz, my time is well spent! πŸ˜‰ Yes, we are all uhamn (I’ve been practising pronouncing your version of that word for a while—it’s one of those cases where “you had to be there.” I went up to someone and said “I’m only uhamn,” and they thought I was drunk. [I just made that up!])

Deirdra, I personally dislike txt spk, but I can understand why some use it. It doesn’t seem somehow…I don’t know…refined to me, but it’s now so common that we may see our dictionaries shrink in the next few years. πŸ™‚ I read your penultimate sentence 8 times. Its eloquence and insight astound. I’m pleased your comparative neuroticism has a (actually several) creative outlets. I’ve personally benefited from same.

Ronnie Ann, I didn’t know you had rules like this! Oh boy, I get 3 typos a day! And extra for fun behavior! β€œNo! Wrong! Bard!” —{picks self up from floor after falling off chair} Chow, to you too, indeed. Are you demanding food from me now? {bats eyelashes innocently}

So therefore Will, you must ‘abnormally’ proofread after publishing? {groans. can’t believe said that} I have made that noise you typed out for us. And said a few of those words to which you alluded. πŸ˜‰ It would be nice to have a window of opportunity to edit our comments on others’ blogs. I remember reading some lively discussion in the fora and on a couple of blogs about “Why Not to Allow This“. It seems some bloggers would use the opportunity to change the comments or delete part of them—particularly if their opinion has not been well received. We know that never happens on your blog though, Will! πŸ˜‰ One can always email the blogger and ask them to fix the error, but they might not comply. Spellchecker is a wonder. I uusuelly schpell purty gud, but it does get at least some of those inadvertent slip-of-the fingers.

Bead! you’ve got my attention! I would never dream of correcting someone else’s spelling on their own blog!—at least not without being asked. So you’re one of those writers that allows people to just relax when visiting. You take us as we are. Thank you! (i no u dunt tlk tht weigh un ur blug, tho!) Methinks you might have some familiarity with a site having something to do with…cats? and cheezburgers? πŸ˜€

Magik, you have a wonderful flowing style of writing that goes well with your blog. Like flowing fabric, I think. That’s funny how you use the dots…and don’t mind what people think…and now you’ve got us doing it too! πŸ™‚ I looked up the rules for parenthetical punctuation, and when I can remember them, I use them. πŸ˜• I first saw that Cambridge thing a couple of years ago, and I agree, it hurts my head, too, but I was astounded at the implications for brain information processing…but that’s another post! I really am persnickety, you know. I figured I might as well own up to it. If you can’t tell your blog friends, who can you tell? Wow, Ronnie gives me permission to typo, and you’re actually encouraging it! I like it here.

Love this post, Muse! I, too, have my pet peeves on the various ‘rules’ of writing. I read a book a while ago called Eats, Shoots, & Leaves (link is here: http://www.librarything.com/work/4230)….it’s quite a clever book on punctuation….the more I write the more I realize that I may have forgotten more than I think! Regardless, your thinking processes are working just fine. πŸ™‚

I’m often a little fussy about grammar and spelling, but I don’t know why, and I still abuse the English language on a regular basis. I do have an obsessive habit of editing and re-editing posts over and over until I’m happy with them; I do proofread, but I always miss something. I keep wishing I could edit my comments on wordpress!

To be honest, I’m in two minds about grammar and spelling. I think that “correct” writing looks intelligent, and I get irritated by typos, but the language evolves, and many of our grammatical rules are illogical anyway. Take split infinitives – they’re only supposedly bad because English grammar was based on that of Latin, a completely different language in which it is not only bad practice to split infinitives, but physically impossible, since they consist of single words. People have been splitting infinitives for centuries, and it’ll take more than fussy grammarians to stop me!

On the other hand, there are certain things that bug me. For example, writing “different than” or “different to”. I’ve done this before myself, but it annoys me because you can’t differ than something – you can only differ from it. Otherwise it sounds like baby talk. “I could care less” is another one – if you could care less, then apparently you do care. It’s just a lazy abbreviation of “I couldn’t care less”. Those are just my own pet grammar bugbears, though.

I love txt spk, lolspeak and 1337, but there’s a time and a place. If anything, I think dictionaries of the future will have to be even thicker to hold all the slang and abbreviations!

oh what a post! thoroughly enjoyed it! i hate computer keyboards, co i hate typing. typing, typo – meh! lke who caesr?

that email thing was pretty good. πŸ˜€ icould read all of it tii withoutany problem!

gosh,. fiunally i get the chance to mahe all the typos that i can!

thankd for this!

aaaahh, like, totally needed that!

Thanks yogini. I sometimes wonder what I’m thinking, so your encouragement is appreciated. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the link, too. I’ve seen that book in stores, but I’d forgotten about it. Apparently British quote and parenthesis usage is different from American, and I don’t know what my Aussie and Canadian buddies do. (More research looms on the horizon.)

Bobby, you’re fussy and don’t know why? That made me chuckle. Yay, another fan of infinitives which are split. ( πŸ˜‰ ) We should form a club, or something. And speak ecclesiastical Latin on alternate Thursdays just to mix things up! You’ve shared a couple other favorite irritations we have in common. A friend of mine once said that the term “I could care less” when spoken (punctuated slightly differently and with one less “s”) is actually a romantic overture. So you’re OK with txt spk? I’m not a big fan of using telephones at all, really, or messaging devices, although I do like email (go figure), so I’ve never used it much. Here in the blog I just keep typing the way I’m used to. I didn’t know what 1337 is {chagrined} so I looked it up! Now I know a new thing! (It hurt my brain, though). I do enjoy LOLspeak in context. I know some despise it but it makes me smile. Good point about the dictionaries, actually.

Netty Gritty, you crack me up, woman! Any time you feel a need to unload some typos, you’re welcome to come over here and do that! πŸ™‚

HAhAHAHAH I love this post πŸ™‚

Thank you kaylee! And thanks very much for visiting. πŸ™‚

About that “rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy”, see http://www.mrc-cbu.cam.ac.uk/~mattd/Cmabrigde/ (If you don’t share my interest, and find that way too my text to read, I’ll summarise: That “thing floating around” isn’t true.)

My personal view on spelling and grammar is that it’s rude to the readers not to care about it. (Of course, if you don’t want anyone to read what you write, feel free to spell any way you want.) Particularly if the readers are not native speakers of the language that have enough trouble decoding the text without additional obstacles. Clear text is easier to read – that’s why we have rules for spelling and grammar!

Then I also find language interesting in itself. I recently bought a copy of the Oxford Style Manual, mostly out of interest. But that’s just me – I know I’m weird, and that doesn’t bother me. πŸ™‚

Muse – “Methinks you might have some familiarity with a site having something to do with…cats? and cheezburgers?”

LOL! No that is from spending time in chat rooms and talking to my nephew. I’ve never been to that cheezburger / cat site.

Rikard, thank you for the link. I had been wanting to know more about this topic. I’m particularly interested in neuro or cognitive functioning. My interest in linguistics includes language evolution. I can look at geographical and historical charts of language movement and development and think I’m having a good time. So, yes, of course you’re weird, but you’re not alone in that, and it’s one of the reasons we like you. πŸ™‚

A mild disclaimer: When I referred to that item as “floating around the Internet” that word “floating”, at least to me, indicated that it not necessarily be taken as factual. However I could have been clearer about that, and you’re right, clarity in communication is important to me as well. My rant was mainly about typos and feeling foolish after making them. I do actually agree with you completely that spelling and grammar are useful and important. I don’t tend to read literature myself which is not constructed (for the most part) correctly. I think the language evolves constantly, though, and commenter B0bbyG makes an excellent point about how some linguistic rules can actually get in the way of communication if they are outmoded and based on faulty logic to begin with.

There are idiom and slang to deal with as well (and txt spk {shudder}). These in particular are difficult for non-native speakers of any language. My father was from Germany, and he always spoke English while living in the US except when speaking with his brother and sisters. I took German language courses in school, partly so I’d understand my Uncles and Aunts when they discussed things they didn’t want the “kids” to hear! This worked for a while until they were on to me and switched to a dialect, Platt-Deutsch, which they’d spoken as children. I could barely understand one word in ten.

In English, and in many other languages too, usage also varies from country to country. There are the “spelling wars” between British and American usage in such words as “colour” and “color”. In the above paragraph I refer to my father speaking English “while” he was in the US; a Brit would say “whilst”.

I read the article you provided all the way through, and I appreciated the contributions from other languages. As I would have suspected, Semitic and Asian languages, for instance, would not be good candidates for this sort of scrambling. When I first learned to read a bit of Hebrew, I was amazed that written Hebrew had no vowels, and that “we just put in the right ones” when speaking it!

I scrolled down to nearly the end of the article to get to the part which outlined what research had actually been done. I think the impact of the “Cambridge Research” piece (and I will say the first version of this I’d read didn’t try to make it sound “more” academic by shameless name-dropping) is not so much that it was carefully constructed to still be readable, but that, in fact, we could indeed read it. Upon first reading it’s rather startling, in my view, and gets me to think about things like information processing in general. So, from one weirdo to another, I thank you for contributing to my study. πŸ˜€

Ah, thebeadden, so I guessed wrong, then! Well, it’s glaringly obvious that your nephew is much cuter than LOLcats, anyway! πŸ˜‰

am i invited back?????

Anytime you want, kaylee! In fact, I’m going to go visit you, now. πŸ™‚

Oh i love your blog I will be back πŸ™‚

Hey Muse. I don’t usually promote something I’ve written when commenting on someone else’s blog, but you might enjoy my poem “Confessions of a Wannabe Grammarian”. You’ll find it on my blog under Poetry. I think the poem might make you smile πŸ™‚

Thank you kaylee, I’m glad! πŸ™‚

teeveebee, I know what you mean about the self-promotion. I’ve been doing that a leeeetle more than usual, and it feels kind of weird. But, from you it is very OK. Not only did I love your poem (the part about “I’d rather chew foil” was hilarious, and evocative: I actually felt a metallic taste in my mouth. Thanks. I think πŸ˜‰ ) but I feel it contributed to the sentiments explored here. And reminds me I need to go read your blog some more.

my meme is up πŸ™‚

All right! I’ll go look now. Everyone: go look at kaylee’s meme!

I wonder how many folks are like me and correct errors they find in books that have been published?

Talk about persnickity.

Have a beautiful day.

Ruby, I do that! I haven’t gone so far as actually sending them back to the publisher yet. I have sent in some corrections to online articles, though. πŸ˜‰ Thank you, and much light and joy to you in yours!

Well, I am less annoyed with English misspellings and typos than French..So, MoonMuse what about short cut like ur instead of your??

Very interesting, CV, that you are more bothered by grammatical errors in French than in English. I suppose this is true because you know French thoroughly. I’m of two minds on your question. I’ve learned things from this post’s commenters (I love blogging!). Although Deirdra prefers to write out her words, she does mention that “ur” can be used for either “your’ or “you’re’. That’s obvious, when you look at it, but I just never had before. Kind of a handy little term, there, “ur.” And B0bbyG is comfortable with txt spk. I’ve spoken and written English all my life, and as I said earlier, I don’t use mobile devices, so I don’t think about saving time while I’m typing. I just type the way I’ve always written, so that’s most comfortable for me. For you (or should I say “u”, LOL) I’ve come to see such abbreviations as part of the way you write, and it is very you, very “Colourful Vision.” You do write beautifully in English, and I notice you don’t use the abbreviations in your poetry, for instance. When you use “ur”, I feel like I’m talking with you, as a friend. When you don’t, as in the poetry, I’m reading your professional work. So, bottom line, I see “ur” as part of “u”, and I like it! πŸ˜€

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