Dispatches from Comma Mama



Consider this an intervention. I don’t want to hear another word about English as the national language. Just stop. Your native citizenry doesn’t have a firm grasp on the distinction between its and it’s, there and their, and the realization there is no such word as “alot.” The people who speak your precious language routinely have their way with it like a two year old with a caterpillar. Auto-correct, you protest? DENIAL, I say.

I’m not even going to get all up in your stuff about using the possessive in front of gerunds or not splitting infinitives. We’re talking basics. Drastic action is in order. For a complete detox, we need a clean sweep:

1. Stop using all apostrophes.

It will solve a lot (see how I did that space thing?) problems. It will solve the it/it’s thing and the near-stroke I have every year when I receive Christmas cards from the “Miller’s.” This causes me to ponder, an object possessed by which Miller is signing the card? Is Father Miller’s colon polyp sending me glad tidings? Cheeky bastard.

It may cause some extra keystrokes to write “could not” and “the book belonging to Helen,” but abstinence is the only effective policy. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Ban effect and affect from your vocabulary immediately. It is (see how I did that?) clearly too much. A simple substitution of the word “impact” will work. It is a noun and a verb all in one and can handily be used to describe recalcitrant molars, too. You can’t get that kind of mileage from effect/affect.

3. Look up the word, “literally.” Now consider it as dead to you. Replace with “actually”. If you actually wet your pants from laughing so hard, say so. On second thought, keep it to yourself.

4. No more quotation marks for you- no direct quotes and absolutely no air quotes. You are on probation from abuse.

5. A lot is 2 words. If you cannot handle 2 words, then use gobs, scads, or oodles (best accompanied a jaunty accent).

6. The word “definitely” is hereby suspended. There is no “a” in definitely, and you only seem to use it when you really mean something is quite questionable. I best not wait around if you say you will “definitely” call.

7. Replace there and their with “yon” and “belonging to them,” as in “Yo, fetch me yon goose belonging to them, Homes.”

There is certainly more, but that is a good start. Tough love.

5 thoughts on “Dispatches from Comma Mama

  1. I reserve the right to use “alot” when I’ve exceeded 140 characters in Twitter and there’s nothing else I can trim.

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