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  • Paul Davidson

Words For <i>Your</i> Enjoyment: Capital Letters

This week, I would like to refrain from mentioning that it is Friday, that there is a new “Words For Your Enjoyment” coming your way, and that if you enjoyed this particular WFYE column, then you may want to take a little jaunt through the archives to look at the previous week’s WFYE installments.

I want to stay away from saying anything like that. Ok? OK.

This week, WFME neighbor to the Great White North, Crista, (who was in a mood when she submitted this idea) said, “Today I have something against capital letters. Why can’t I be against capital letters? Because everyone else does it, so too should I?”

So, true Crista. So true.

Now we must address some of the history that WFME has had with capital letters in the past, first. There were times when we wrote our posts in lowercase only as well as giving the ‘ol Caps Lock key a full-on smackdown. But never have we discussed the pressure one feels to use capitals in all their text and the way in which society insists you start every damn sentence with a CAPITAL.

Crista has a good point when she asks, “Why can’t I be against capital letters?” Crista, like other freedom fighters and revolutionaries throughout history have been known to ask THAT QUESTION (not that one in particular, but a question that sparks their life’s work) in the beginning. It is from that point forward, that the world begins to change at the hand of the revolutionary. In this case, Crista has taken the first step.

Really, what’s the need of capital letters? If we have punctuation, there’s no need. Check out these two sentences and tell me what the issue is. Tell me how it changes the meaning:

1. i went down to the corner and i bought myself a soda. damn, was it good!

2. I went down to the corner and I bought myself a soda. Damn, was it good!

There is only one difference between the first sentence and the second sentence. Anal people who have issues with other people who don’t signal when they’re changing lanes or who chew gum with their mouth open or who give slimy, weak handshakes or who insist that drinking straight out of the milk carton is par for the course — they look at the above two sentences and when they see #1 they say to themselves, “Well that sentence is ALL wrong! They didn’t use capitals!!”

Capital letters and the usage of them comes down to one silly little thing: habit.

Habit, that’s it. Silly little habit. It has nothing to do with grammar. It has nothing to do with meaning. It has nothing to do with anything that makes sense. Just because a book or a teacher tells you that using a capital letter is what you’re supposed to do doesn’t mean it’s necessary. There is a difference between the things we’re taught that ARE necessary and the things (like capital letters) that aren’t. Let me express my point here with these examples:

a. We are taught that by using contraceptives at the beginning of sexual intercourse, that this will prevent accidental pregnancy, disease and potential future wage garnishment while using a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence really doesn’t save us from any serious life issues…

b. We are told that by putting a protective cup in front of our hoo-hoos before a full contact sporting event, that we will protect ourselves from extreme pain, possible lack of damage and embarrassment while shoving a capital letter in front of a word at the beginning of a sentence won’t save our hoo-hoos from shit.

c. We are informed that by using a motor vehicle’s safety restraints (i.e. seatbelts) correctly, we will protect ourselves and our families from potential danger out there on the highways while using capital letters correctly doesn’t safe us from anything.

I could go on and on. (And you know I could.)

But the bottom line is this — there is no need for capital letters any longer in society. It is an out-dated concept that has no bearing on sentence structure, sentence meaning or sentences in general. All it is, is a remnant of some capital-letter dominant past, where people did things because of the way it looked more than the meaning behind it.

So, I say to Crista — the revolutionary who stood strong against the lack of need for capital letters in today’s sentences and paragraphs — still, er, stay strong! For if you can continue to fight the good fight against society’s dependence on an ancient format, someday you too may be standing side by side the likes of other well-known revolutionaries like Genghis Kahn and Gandhi (who fought for some important stuff, too).

for who needs capital letters?

not me.

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