Saturday, May 10, 2014

(From the archives: July 6, 2011) crooked letter, crooked letter, i

I have a young friend named Tim -- he’s 42 and that’s young from my perspective -- whose blog I read from time to time, usually just after he has announced on his Facebook page that he has a new post on his blog. He probably announces it on Twitter also but I don’t do Twitter. I’m not saying I’ll never do Twitter because (a) never is a long, long time and (b) the scripture does say “Boast not thyself of tomorrow because thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (KJV) , but for the foreseeable future (say, the next 60 years or so) I have no intention of ever doing Twitter. Blogging is one thing, and Facebooking is another, but doing Twitter definitely makes a person part of what are termed “the chattering classes” and I am not now nor have I ever been a member of the chattering classes.

Stop laughing.

Anyway, as I was saying, I was reading Tim’s blog when i suddenly realized that tim does not capitalize the beginning of any sentence or any personal pronoun that is in the first person singular or any proper name except that of deity, so i thought if it’s good enough for tim it’s good enough for me. i mean, after all, rhymeswithplague is spelled without a capital letter and following tim’s lead would be the next logical step down the path to weirdness.

his heart is in the right place, i’m sure. i mean, i get it. tim and i are both Christian men and so we are both aware of what the apostle john wrote in the thirtieth verse of the third chapter of the fourth book in the new testament:

“He [Christ] must increase, but I must decrease.”

in fact, i said this very thing in the third blogpost i ever wrote nearly four years ago.

i’m wondering, though, whether tim and i are really achieving our desired purpose by deciding to refer to ourselves in this unorthodox way, because from time immemorial or at least as far back as there have been english teachers, sentences have started with capital letters and the personal pronoun in the first person singular has always been capitalized, and a proper noun has been capitalized as well out of simple common courtesy, so this sudden shift has quite the opposite effect, i think, from the one intended; that is, by separating oneself from the thundering herd, by being different, one is specifically calling attention to oneself rather than away from oneself, wouldn’t you say?

or maybe that is tim’s point. we, by which i mean tim and i and all Christians, are exactly like everyone who isn’t Christian except for one thing, and that is that we want Christ to increase and ourselves to decrease. the problem, though, in taking matters into our own hands is the same one faced by orders of nuns who still wear habits that originated in the 16th or 17th century, namely that when said orders adopted their habits they wanted to look like modest peasant women of the 16th or 17th century, but in a few years the clothing styles changed. in more recent times we went through the flapper era of the nineteen-twenties and the mini-skirted era of the nineteen-sixties, and even though Christian women tried to dress modestly and stylishly simultaneously, nuns all stood out like sore thumbs because they still looked like peasant women of the 16th or 17th century. correction, make that modest peasant women of the 16th or 17th century. i mean, they might as well have been wearing big signs that said “look at me; i'm holier than thou.”

the best-laid plans o’ mice and men, not to mention orders of well-meaning nuns, gang aft agley.

so, as yul brynner used to say on days he dressed up in gold lamé outfits that were too baggy for words and went barefoot besides, is a puzzlement.

which leads me to two conclusions that i have modestly named Rhymeswithplague’s First Law and Rhymeswithplague’s Second Law:

(1) the purer the motive, the more ridiculous the manifestation.

(2) writing in all lowercase letters in order to appear humble may not achieve the objective one desires, BUT DOING THE OPPOSITE AND WRITING EVERYTHING IN CAPITAL LETTERS IS NOT THE ANSWER EITHER.

sorry, i didn’t mean to shout at you.

now that i have had time to reflect on it, i think this will be the end of my little foray into lowercasehood.


  1. "Neglecteth thy capital letters and thou shalt burn in Satan's fiery pit" - Pudding Chapter I, Verse ix

  2. Yorkshire Pudding, I'm assuming the Book of Pudding is featured in The English Teachers' Or Teacher's Or Maybe Even Teachers Bible. In the Apostropha, of course.

  3. Shunning capitals is a much, much less irritating ploy than kreative spelling.
    And, if you leave out all the e's from words the brain adapted (and replaces them) remarkably quickly but I would prefer you didn't go down that route.

  4. "Thou hast assumeth correctly oh master of ye emboldened and italicised comments. I bow to thy knowledge almighty Father." Book of Pudding Chapter 13, verse 13, line 13.

  5. Well I never thought I'd see the day that rhymes with no capital would write whole paragraphs with no capitals barring those relating to scripture. blimey guvnor. Blimey Guvnor I mean. No, nOw I'm gettiNg MY caPitALs alL miXED up. I DiD reaD yOur tHIrd Ever poSt, aNd yoU weRe a naTUraL from ThE veRy BeginNinG. *gRinS

  6. Absolutely, RWP, I couldn't agree more. Affectation, I call it, when ignoramuses ignore (! love those two words together !) basic rules of writing one learned in school. Without capital letters and punctuation, words become nothing more than unadulterated waffle.

  7. Elephant's Child, shunning capitals sound like something Amish people might do, and kreative spelling makes me see Nazis saluting.

    Y. Pudding, it isn't difficult to embolden or italicise comments. I bet even you could learn to do it.

    All Consuming, Blimey Guvnor indeed. Your last sentence reminded me of the blogger named bARE-eYED sUN.

    Jinksy, I thought unadulterated waffle was when you skip the maple syrup.