In my last post, I wrote about my resolution for the New Year, which was to try to pronounce the word “vegan” correctly or, rather, the way vegans would like it to be pronounced, which is incorrectly.
Okay, fine. If you insist, I’ve decided that I’ll also stop putting two spaces between sentences.
I grew up with two spaces, and I’ve always been sure that was correct. I would have sworn it was correct. You could have won a major bet with me and perhaps taken possession of my 401k if you had known how sure I was about this. It made so much sense, after all: if there’s one space between words, wouldn’t you think there should be a bigger space between sentences?
Apparently not. In fact, I have recently learned that two spaces was never correct, and I’ve been wrong about this my entire life, just as I’ve been wrong about which New York baseball team to root for. In my defense, however, the two space rule wasn’t something I imagined. In the mid-20th Century, people were sometimes told to use two spaces because computers hadn’t been invented yet. Well, they had been invented, but they took up entire rooms, and had lots of spinning reels, and the average person said, “I think I’ll wait till you get that down to the size of a phone.”
The manual typewriters we had in those prehistoric days used monospaced type . . . that is, every letter was given the same amount of space. But that made the spacing between letters look uneven because skinny letters like “i” had more “air” around them than fat letters like “m.” So people started putting two spaces between sentences to differentiate that from the variable spaces between letters.
Obviously, that’s no longer necessary because today’s modern computers know how to smush letters together. You can see the same principle at work with passengers on New York City subways. If a skinny person sits next to a fat person, the fat person fills in the space next to the skinny person, unless the skinny person manspreads (assuming the skinny person is male), or the fat person has not bathed recently, in which case the skinny person will stand, and the fat person on the skinny person’s other side will somehow expand to take up the space where the skinny person was sitting and the two fat people become like the middle of the word “simmer.”
Where was I?
Right–spaces between sentences. Anyway, the double space bar tap is so automatic to me, I’m no more likely to stop doing it than I am to suddenly begin using the metric system.
Yes, I know. This post has one space between sentences. But it’s only because I do a search and replace when I’m done. Search “ ” and replace with “ ”.
So maybe I’m cheating a bit on my resolution. Which is why I’ve also decided to begin typing ellipses correctly.
Hey, you–put down your counterfeit moon-watching glasses! I said “ellipses,” not “eclipses.” An “ellipsis” is what cretins like you refer to as “dot dot dot.”
I use ellipses more than most people because I write direct mail for a living, and we direct mail writers are fond of using headlines like:
Get this Harley Davidson Leather Jacket Absolutely FREE . . .
And then continuing with “ . . . with your purchase of the 2018 Harley Davidson 1200 Custom starting at $10,999 MSRP.”
I don’t know why, but I’ve always typed an ellipsis as “…”. Now I’m told that there not only has to be a space between each dot, but there has to be one before the first dot and after the last dot, which creates all kinds of problems when your dot dot dot gets automatically line-broken and two of your dots end up on the next line.
So, anyway, here I am, staunchly prepared to do battle with my natural inclination to put two spaces between sentences and no spaces between dots, and I go to see Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, the opening crawl of which ends with:
“But the Resistance has been exposed. As the First Order speeds toward the rebel base, the brave heroes mount a desperate escape….”
And, I looked it up and the original Star Wars had four dots . . . and no spaces between them! They had all the space they needed to put spaces between the dots . . . in fact, they had all of space available to put spaces between the dots, and they didn’t!
I hate starting a new year all confused.
See you soon.