Two beefs.

May I be honest? Of course I may.

Writing without uppercase letters really bothers me. The only place I’m willing to see no capital at the beginning of a sentence or a name (for example) is in poetry, and then it has to be there for a reason other than “because it looks poetic”. Unfortunately, uppercase-less writing is rather trendy at the moment, particularly on the internet and in email. I’m tempted to say that writing without uppercase letters is the abstract art of postmodernism, but I won’t go so far.

I find that a lack of uppercase letters makes written work look like one huge run-on sentence–it simply makes it difficult to read. The main reason, however, for my distaste for uppercase-less writing is that it is deliberate. A person can plead ignorance of proper usage when caught with a comma splice; mixing up “its” and “it’s” is even forgivable. But even the least educated people know that the first word after a period (or “full stop”) begins with a capital letter. This means anyone who does not use capital letters is doing it on purpose.

But I’m not the boss of the world.

While I’m on the subject, lists that are written as a series of clipped sentences are also annoying. Take, for example, this passage from John Eldredge’s new book Epic (which was given to me to read and review, and which, I confess, I am predisposed to dislike):

Bring two people together, and they will soon be telling stories. A child on her grandmother’s lap. Two men in a fishing boat. Strangers stuck another hour in the airport. Simply run into a friend. (p. 4)

Isn’t that terrible? Isn’t it unseemly? The last four sentences are supposed to be items in a list of examples. However, if read using his punctuation as a guide (which is how we should always read anyway), Eldredge gives us three separate images and an order to arrange an accidental meeting with an acquaintance, none of which are related to any of the others. Commas or semicolons would have made related them to each other:

Bring two people together, and they will soon be telling stories: a child on her grandmother’s lap; two men in a fishing boat; strangers stuck another hour in the airport; simply run into a friend.

Now that I look at that list, the last item is itself grammatically incorrect. Items in a list should have uniform phrasing, so the last item should probably read: “simply running into a friend”. Even then it’s not ideal, because the first three items are all images, whereas the third item is an action; listed items should all be similar not only in phrasing, but in nature as well.

But I’m not John Eldredge’s editor.

I suppose one could argue that these things don’t matter if people don’t notice them. Perhaps; but I notice them, and they bother me. I suppose, too, that people write however they please. I won’t hold a gun to anyone’s head when it comes to writing a certain way, but I will complain about it.

This went on a little longer than I had planned. That’s what happens when I get on a rant, I guess.

Once again, I’ll be the first to point out that my grammar isn’t perfect. I want to improve my writing; along the way I notice things and I can’t keep my literal and metaphorical mouth shut.

2 thoughts on “Two beefs.

  1. Linea

    I second your rant. My grammar isn’t perfect either but…

    If I was writing a book, I would want the editor to catch things like this.

Comments are closed.