Is “its” on it’s way out?

Here’s another candidate for a rule that will be gone in 20 years: the distinction between “its” and “it’s.” Everywhere, even in published material, the latter seems to be displacing the former.

And what with basal ganglia and contagious speech patterns, we’re probably all subconsciously learning to favor “it’s”. The more often we favor it (it’s), the more often we favor it.

One could even make a grammatical case for this displacement–one that doesn’t invoke the French! Possessive nouns get the apostrophe (“the cat’s pajamas”), so why not possessive pronouns*?


*In fact, we already have one pronoun that does get an apostrophe: “one”, as in “one should mind one’s ps and qs.”

While we’re on the subject of fading rules…

Another 20 years from now, comma splices won’t be comma splices.

They’ll just be commas.

That’s my prediction.

Twenty years from now comma splices will be correct because:

a) no one under the age of 30 (or thereabouts) knows what they are 
and
b) no one over the age of 30 (or thereabouts) has any idea how to teach them. 

Also, comma splices don’t exist in French.

French !

The French have a whole Académie dedicated to “fix[ing] the French language, giving it rules, rendering it pure and comprehensible by all,” yet they don’t have a rule that says Don’t use a comma to join two independent clauses.

Well, I say: If French people don’t have to care about comma splices, neither do we. 

And see:
Académie française
Participles that may be on their way out 

More fun with exclamation points, part 2

John Keilman, writing in the Chicago Tribune:

If you’re trying to get yourself uninvited from your Aunt Edith’s unbearable holiday fondue party, I suggest you try this trick: Send her a Christmas card that includes not one exclamation point.

Season’s greetings. All the best to you and the kids. Have a wonderful 2016.

I promise she will cut you from the guest list in a flash. After years of exclamation point creep, failing to use one in social and even business correspondence marks you as a frigid and aloof misanthrope without a drop of good fellowship.

[snip]

“An exclamation point is like laughing at your own jokes,” F. Scott Fitzgerald supposedly wrote in one withering and oft-cited maxim.

But in recent years, exclamation points have become an almost compulsory part of written communication. . . .

The marks have become so ubiquitous that leaving one out feels like a statement, even when none is intended. A just-published study of text messages, for example, found that texts ending with a simple period are more likely to be viewed as insincere.

Or, as a satirical story in The Onion put it: “In a diabolical omission of the utmost cruelty, stone-hearted ice witch Leslie Schiller sent her friend a callous thank-you email devoid of even a single exclamation point, sources confirmed Monday.”

Reading this, I was questioning whether anyone alive today actually has an Aunt Edith.

Looks like there are still a few of them around.

How_Many_of_Me_-_Census_Search_Results

And see: More fun with exclamation points

More fun with exclamation points

Disclosure: I am a person who, when texting, likes to use exclamation points.

Lots of exclamation points.

I like using question marks, too, especially question marks in conjunction with exclamation points.

e.g.:

WHAT???!!!!!

She *said* that???!!!

Out **loud**???!!!!

Good thing I don’t work for the FBI.

Anyway, where exclamation points (and question marks) are concerned, I like to do exactly what everyone tells you not to do if you want to have a job or a life or the respect of people writing articles complaining about too many exclamation points.

Which brings me to my actual point: French people write exclamation points and question marks differently than we do.

Specifically, they leave a space between the end of the sentence and the mark.

Au secours !

Or:

Sauve qui peut !

I love that. (I love that!!!!)

Somehow, for me, the space between the words and the mark gives the mark a dimension of poignancy it doesn’t have when it follows directly on the final letter. I don’t know why.

Poignancy or sobriety.

I’ve started leaving spaces, too.

I love that !!!!

Better, right ?

* It’s a really good thing. I once wrote a ticked-off email to a friend complaining about Ed refusing to sign off on my buying a new computer. He was cheap, I said. Then I sent the email to Ed, by mistake. I was in the room when he got it, and I still remember the look on his face.  

And see: More fun with exclamation points, part 2