[Is it just me, or does “personal punctuation” sound sort of… dirty?]
A month or two ago, I posted briefly about the number of spaces to put after a period (one), and my personal struggle to adapt. I’d always been a two-spaces kind of gal, but after reading a very convincing article, I decided to switch to one. I just wanted to update y’all that I’m doing very well with one space these days, and only slip up occasionally. Efficiency, efficiency!
But why does it even matter? Why allocate that small chunk of my brain to the seemingly trivial matter of switching over to one space after a period? Friends, I believe that punctuation matters. Literacy is a gift. Literacy is a beautiful palace of endless rooms, but it is BUILT ON A FOUNDATION. I’m actually appalled by how often I come off as a technophobic bitter old fogey on this blog, but I’m going to say it anyway: electronic communication is eroding our language! I have the misfortune of seeing this occur in English, and no doubt it plagues other languages as well. It’s okay to have a solid grasp of the rules and then go ahead and break them, but I suspect that many people are slowly losing their grasp on the rules. Uncountable thousands never really understood the rules in the first place.
Grammar is important. Written English is not a mushy place where there are no rules; it is a place where, reassuringly, you can know if you are right or wrong. Part of my work-from-home job is editing the CVs of people who make more than $2000/day in the oil industry. The number of elementary grammatical mistakes that I’ve found in these CVs is mindboggling. It makes me sad that people who have had every opportunity to learn to write in English just.. haven’t. I don’t know their lives, and there may be any number of extenuating circumstances. But I’ll say it again: literacy is a gift. If you have the opportunity to learn to write properly in any language, I think you’re a fool not to take it. Knowing how to read well, and how to express yourself in writing with clarity and precision is nothing but good.