grammar is important. when you get it wrong, you come off looking like a complete moron.
i pride myself in knowing my english grammar. i use lie and lay correctly. i can tell you the difference between who and whom. i know the difference between a colon and one that’s just semi. and if i were so inclined, i could tell you about the subjunctive tense.
but one thing i play fast and loose with are capital letters. (and subject-verb agreement, apparently…)
that’s right, capital letters. as you no doubt notice, i’m not using any.
the reason? they’re overused. and frankly, useless.
i’d like to submit for your consideration a world-changing idea: abolishing capital letters from the english language. i think the world would be better served and better off by simply not using them anymore.
as is often the case with world-changing ideas, my unbelief in capital letters began humbly: people called me jim.
you see, a cursive capital “t” looks like a print capital “j”. why the creators of cursive decided this, i’ve no clue. but i’m pretty sure they weren’t named tim. or jim for that matter.
this really irritated me. i’d write my name as taught, but substitute teachers and others (who didn’t know me) would read my beautifully written script and call me jim. “tim,” i’d politely correct them, while mentally rolling my eyes. since using capital letters was required – the audacity of public education! – i had to continue to write my name in cursive with the abominable capital “t”.
that is, until i didn’t.
i’m not sure why exactly, but one day in high school – i was probably 15 at the time – a monumental and earth-shattering idea came to me: write your name in lowercase letters. so i did. i wrote my name in all lowercase letters. first in print. then quickly doing the same when i signed checks or autographs for my many friends. (note, they were giving me checks and i was giving them autographs.)
despite the occasional red pen corrections from a few of my english teachers, i continued doing so. and i haven’t looked back.
of course, i continued to capitalize other proper nouns and acronyms. and god forbid i not capitalize the first word of a sentence. but somewhere along the line, my confidence swelled and i pushed my grammatical defiance to more than just my first and last name.
why use capital letters at all, i asked. they don’t do anything. why do we need to set off quote-unquote proper nouns from improper nouns? deep down, aren’t all nouns improper? what makes one better than the other that it deserves such a lofty distinction as a capital letter?
unlike many revolutionary geniuses, i kept my ideas to myself, lest i raise the ire of society at large. i could only imagine what those who held sway would say. “what? no capital letters? you’re mad! how would we tell a man named joe from a cup of joe? simply mad, i tell you! are you a communist?”
people so cling to the capital letter notion that they even go so far as to overcapitalize. phrases such as i love you, open house, yard sale this way, happy new year, happy birthday, and holy shit have fallen prey to the overcapitalizing masses. never mind that the only traditionally proper noun in the whole lot is the word “i”.
not surprisingly, cities and governmental agencies are the worst offenders at capitalizing traditionally improper nouns. read any document from a city and the word “city” is capitalized as if it’s a proper noun. really? unless the city’s name is city, traditional grammar rules dictate it should not be capitalized. you just look pretentious and stupid. considering it’s usually lawyers drafting such documents, maybe i’m asking too much.
someday i hope to live in a world where i can safely write a book without using any capital letters and not be immediately chastised or disregarded. that’d be pretty sweet. hey, if cormac mccarthy can win a pulitzer prize without using quotation marks and constructing the past perfect tense using the word “of” (should of) instead of “‘ve” (should’ve) i should be able to write a book without capital letters.
i ‘ve played nice with the rest of the english-speaking world for far too long. i diligently and obediently wrote my term papers, essays, and other written assignments with capital letters. but not my name. the capital proponents would never see me write out my name with capitals ever again.
since starting this blog, i decided the time was right to finally go public with my anti-capital sentiments. for too long society has been enslaved to the ridiculous notion that capital letters are somehow important. they are not.
so, who will join me in my brazen capital offense? who will write with me, and shrug off the oppressive weight of capital letters?
let us live a lowercase life of freedom!