Patterico's Pontifications

9/30/2004

The Greatest Sin Against Mankind

Filed under: Grammar — AMac @ 9:57 am

People have expressed annoyance that my last post wasn’t nearly characteristic enough of my, well, “unique” style.

In order to humor all of you, I’ve decided to post an entry on the one thing that upsets me more than anything else. It upsets me more than affirmative action, socialist economic policies, and all the other stupidities I’m saddled with as a resident of California.

This is primarily because, unlike those other things, which spring from horribly idiotic and misguided reasoning, there is absolutely no reason for what I’m about to rail against.

I swear that I’m going to order the execution of people who still cling to the “two spaces after a period” rule in this modern era of proportionally spaced fonts.

Absolutely nothing is more offensive to the gods of aesthetics than this rule. It makes typewritten documents look like junior high school book reports, and interrupts the flow of the eye between sentences, not to mention generally increasing distracting white space in what are often double-spaced documents.

This convention irritates me to the point that I yelled at an attorney who suggested that I correct my single space after a period in a document I prepared for him. For ten minutes. All about how I find the two spaces rule personally and morally offensive.

The worst part about it is not just how ugly it looks- it’s the assholes who love to point it out to others. I’m not talking about those who sometimes notice it, I’m talking about that person- and you all know at least one, admit it- who is consumed by the desire to correct us, the benighted souls who actually use modern word processing properly. This correction is always done in a smarmy manner, and is often condescending, as if explaining the use of a question mark to a retarded child.

If I ever get onto the bench, I swear I’m going to make, and enforce, a courtroom rule that all documents filed or lodged with the court must include only one space after a period. I will employ one of my clerks, or better yet, one of my externs, solely to check documents for compliance with this rule. Any attorney failing to observe the rule will be subject to Rule 11 sanctions and/or being held in contempt of court, at my preference.

I’m dead serious about this.

12 Responses to “The Greatest Sin Against Mankind”

  1. Bravo! I wrote an 800-page book last year for Premier Press (find it here, or look it up on Amazon – ISBN# 159200136X) ad was pleasantly surprised to see that their style guide (and style templates) DO NOT use the double space after a full stop.

    Most other publishers are the same now, I’m told, and have been in quite a while.

    I hate that, yet the rule is so pounded into my head that I still do it absent mindedly from time to time.

    CERDIP (35ba9a)

  2. and* was

    Preview is my friend!

    (Where’s my copy editor!?!?!)

    CERDIP (35ba9a)

  3. Interesting. I always put two spaces at the end of a sentence. It’s a habit. But I notice that many word processing programs (including, I think, whatever powers Movable Type) tend to omit the second space, which doesn’t bother me much.

    Regardless, I am enjoying the increasing Anger. I hope it continues to build over the coming week.

    Patterico (310e52)

  4. Movable type displays that way because HTML considers any run of spaces, carriage returns and newlines equivalent to a single space, except in between <PRE> and </PRE> and a few other exceptions. You would have to put in non-breaking spaces &nbsp; if you wanted more than one space.

    Ken Hirsch (7579f0)

  5. Ah, I did not know that the double space was particular to monospace typewriters. I learned to type on a typewriter, and I’m sorry to say that my spacing habit is ingrained in my touchtyping habits. Now that I know that the reason for that extra space has nothing to do with proportional type, I will endeavor to cut it out.

    As Ken notes, HTML removes the extra spaces, so I don’t look such an ass online, but I turned off the alert in Word for two spaces, and I’ll put it back on.

    Hmmm, another mystery solved.

    meep (8393b9)

  6. Changing the world, one person at a time.

    Welcome back to the civilized world, meep.

    The Angry Clam (9bb02f)

  7. A-friggin-men, Clam!

    There’s an excellent little book, “The Mac is Not a Typewriter.” Despite the title, it’s not really Mac-specific (it probably was when it was written, but PCs have come a long way.) It covers additional things like ‘straight’ vs. curly quotes, etc.

    My current peeve: people who use an apostrophe-s for plurals. Grrrrr.

    ChrisD (93b94f)

  8. Gratias deo ago, the Clam is home.

    Hugo (33075b)

  9. Like meep, I learned to touch-type on a typewriter – a manual upright. Fastest typists got to use one of 4 IBM Selectrics for the next week. So I do the two spaces at the end of a sentence. Straight wrists (it HURT not to do it on a manual), sit up straight, feet on the floor. I still type like this. Sister Jude would be spinning in her grave if I didn’t.

    That said, I’m glad most word processing programs automatically adjust. I either can’t or won’t change my ingrained habits, but if it is so annoying to so many people, let the autocorrect remain.

    Now MY pet peeve: people who don’t use the correct synonym. Such as: affect-effect, to-two-to, there-their-they’re, its-it’s, whose-who’s, meat-meet-mete, either/or-neither/nor. And in blogdom, baited-bated. *makes me think of fish breath* I think I’ll start a running list, maybe post it somewhere (assuming someone hasn’t done it already).

    After all, one good peeve deserves another, wouldn’t you agree?

    Claire (dd3e7c)

  10. Yeah, except the word you’re looking for is homonym.

    Homonym = words that sound identical but are spelled differently, and have different meanings.

    Synonym = words with identical meanings.

    The Angry Clam (c96486)

  11. Claire,

    Re your pet peeves — there’s a tale of a cat ate cheese, so that he could breathe down mouseholes with baited breath.

    Richard M (fcdd10)

  12. Oops, i meant to put a “who” in there
    “… a cat who ate …”

    Richard M (fcdd10)


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