Written by David Vogel Tuesday, 05 March 2013 14:22
I’m a member of the National English Review and Direction Society, which is a national government-funded organization that monitors the condition and popular use of the English language and then adjusts the standards for its application accordingly.
Basically, the organization is responsible for standardizing correct grammar, syntax and word use.
Toward the beginning of each year NERDS issues an updated guidebook to its members, which I received just last week.
As a person who prides himself on the ability to write according to the rules of our language, I found a number of this year’s changes rather interesting, and thought they might be worth passing on to those who share that value.
So if you want to write right this year, here are the new standards as dictated by the general public’s use and set forth by NERDS. English teachers, authors, journalists and students take note:
• Capitalization is no longer necessary for beginning a sentence, provided punctuation is present to indicate its end. Similarly, the first letter of a proper noun need not be upper case, either. It is expected that the shift key will be removed from the Qwerty keyboard by 2016.
• End-of-sentence punctuation is considered archaic and need only be used as a formality in the event that the following sentence is not capitalized or otherwise indicated with a paragraph break. Maybe just use the ~ figure, because no one has a clue what it’s supposed to do anyway.
• The new rules for mid-sentence punctuation are as follows: Commas are confusing, so only use one in writing if a pause in thought or speech needs to be indicated. Colons are only applicable in the use of a smiley face. Semicolons are pretty much dead to us.
• I before E, except after C. Unless you’re confused, then either is used.
• The possessive pronoun “its” and the contraction “it’s” are now interchangeable. The apostrophe in this case is now considered irrelevant, as the reader is assumed to be smart enough to figure it out. The same goes for “then” and “than,” “your” and “you’re” and most popularly “their,” “there” and “they’re.”
• Ain’t is a word, and we is gonna say it.
• As in the 18th century, the spelling of words will no longer be standardized. Though 18th-century spelling had more to do with the writer’s taste for a Latin language influence, this change is being made because the use of proper spelling is just too much work.
Future word processing software will not come with a spell-checker installed, all descendents of the Webster family will be taken out and shot, and the writer may take whatever liberty he or she likes with his or her words.
• Change that last independent clause to “the writer make take whatever liberty they feel like with their words.” It’s easier.
• Sentence fragments acceptable. As long as the audience understands the message, save yourself a few extra words. Go ahead and take off work early while you’re at it.
• The relative pronoun “whom” will no longer be recognized as a word. Those attempting to use it—correctly or incorrectly—will be tried by a jury of their peers.
• The necessity of a well-planned, carefully crafted closing paragraph that appropriately ties up any loose ends and summarizes the content of the written piece is no longer required because it takes too much effort and nobody ever reads that far anyway.