No. Just no. End stop. 2 spaces after a period. make it stop_opt

No. Just no. End stop.

Today I share a tale of periods, questions marks and other punctuation poorly served by those who come after.

If you are tired of the national dialogue about the number of spaces that must follow an end punctuation, I urge you to walk away from today’s Change of Venue Friday post. But I warn you: You may be part of the problem.

Others have spoken far more eloquently than I about the evils inherent in a two-space world. I heartily advocate that you read the essays on the topic by Jennifer Gonzalez and by Farhad Manjoo.

What brought the topic to my front burner was our own writing-columnist, Susie Salmon, penning a piece on the space issue in the March 2015 Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Susie’s piece, as always, was well written and in need of zero editing (o’ course). And I was pleased to see she was attacking the scourge afflicting our nation.

Until I got to her second graf. That’s where she reported:

“I remain agnostic … when it comes to what may be the biggest punctuation controversy of the modern era: how many spaces to insert after the punctuation at the end of the sentence. When I present to groups of attorneys, paralegals, or secretaries, I can be certain that at least one person will ask about the issue and that several people in the audience will have strong opinions one way or the other. Because I do not believe that the number of spaces after a period materially affects the accuracy or clarity of my written work, my personal rule is simple: Pick one option and be consistent.”

I must admit: I gulped deeply when I read that. Had my unfettered support for the First Amendment run its course? Could I—would I—strike the offending language and urge a better course of action upon readers?

Well, if you read the published magazine, you’ll see that I did not impose my own position on Susie’s column. But I was nervous: Were we encouraging a randomness among readers that would lead to sentential chaos? (Yes, I made up that word.)

This week, I saw that my worries were well grounded.

Outside the work space of a Bar colleague, a page from the magazine was posted proudly. Always pleased to see magazine content shared and touted, I strolled over to Sarah Fluke’s desk—and promptly gulped again. You can see it posted below (click to biggify.)

March 2015 Legal Word spaces after commas_opt

There, in the upper-right corner, Sarah had encouraged a vote on the 1-space/2-space question. Look at it; I mean, LOOK at it!

March 2015 Legal Word spaces after commas cropped_opt

Friends don’t let friends vote for 2 spaces. Just sayin’.

Dangerous democracy, I thought. But then I spied the emerging ballot results. As of yesterday, I am sorry to report, the votes rested at 9 to 7—in favor of two spaces.

Sarah is a wonderful colleague and is adept at delivering terrific continuing legal education. But here, in black and white, I thought I spied an abdication of her educative goals.

She, of course, is having none of my 21st-century nonsense and believes two spaces are absolutely fine. As I expressed my dismay, the conversation devolved into something along the lines of “Go away.   Move away from my desk.   Stop looking at my things.” (Vast and ridiculous amounts of space added in Sarah’s honor.)

My CLE colleagues may disappoint, and so I turn to you, my progressive readers. Please put aside your past experiences and your memory of my sad but true interactions at the Bar. Read the simple query below, and vote. The future of our nation hangs in the balance.

Have a wonderful—and space-conserving—weekend.

Wordcrimes 1 Weird Al Yankovic video

Nothing lightens a busy week’s load like a grammar lesson.

Hmmm, scratch that. Instead:

Nothing lightens a busy week’s load like “Weird Al” Yankovic.

That’s more like it.

OK, even if you’re not a “Weird Al” fan, you may enjoy his video take on the importance of grammar (didn’t see that coming, did you?)

(And before I forget to ask, how many decades do we have to see “Weird Al” Yankovic in this country before we’re able to simply drop the apostrophes? Odd, don’t you think? Probably a legal name, like somewhere in performance history, there’s already an Equity actor named Weird Al, no apostrophe. Oh well, back to our regularly scheduled programming.)

Here, in one compact video, Al points out a wide variety of the grammatical missteps folks make every day.

Hat tip to Fennemore Craig attorney Chad Mead for alerting me to “Weird Al’s” great public service.

Have a terrific—and wordcrime-free—weekend.

Wordcrimes 2 Weird Al Yankovic video

new theWhy is “the” so long a word? asked Paul Mathis. The Australian was annoyed at the little word, not so much for its 3-letter length, but for its hegemonic prevalence in our sentences.

Thanks to Mathis, the word “the,” which appears in 80 percent of English-language sentences, now has a new alternative: “Ћ”

Frustrated with "the," Franklin, Adams and Jefferson went through a lot of paper in drafting Ћ Declaration of Independence.

Frustrated with “the,” Franklin, Adams and Jefferson went through a lot of paper in drafting Ћ Declaration of Independence.

OK, even if this is Change of Venue Friday and your quality-demand meter is way down, you may not be convinced. But take a look at the compelling evidence as seen in the following sentences:

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Quite the time-suck, right? Now, try this streamlined version:

“When in Ћ Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve Ћ political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among Ћ powers of Ћ earth, Ћ separate and equal station to which Ћ Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to Ћ opinions of mankind requires that they should declare Ћ causes which impel them to Ћ separation.”

Impressive and concise, right? Had that been the opening graf of the letter sent to Great Britain, I’m pretty certain the Crown would have capitulated without the need for war.

You may disagree, but at least have Ћ open-mindedness to watch Ћ video below that explains Mathis’ thinking. It may change Ћ world as you know it.

Have a great weekend.

Hat tip to a PR Daily article for alerting me to Ћ radical proposal to change an article.