We live in a confusing world. Okay, more accurately, I live in this world, confused. There are so many things I don’t get. I don’t get people who have a professed problem with contractions, such as isn’t (for ‘is not’), don’t (for ‘do not’), shan’t (for ‘shall not’), wouldn’t, can’t, haven’t, aren’t – not to mention the quirky ain’t (originally for ‘am not’). [Yes, Abbie, I am looking at you!] I also don’t get people who confuse (including a certain well-admired Professor who shall remain nameless) between it’s (a contraction of ‘it is’) and its (the possessive form). I seethe with frustration (Yes, I love Lynne Truss!) when people write ‘your’ when they mean “you’re” (contraction of ‘you are’), or say/write the abominable ‘would of’ instead of “would’ve” (contraction of ‘would have’).
But all this is mere bagatelle compared to my latest pet peeve: People who put two (or more) spaces after the period sign (‘.’) while typing in a computer-based word processor!
This is a relic from the age of mechanical typewriters when there was no easy way to justify the paragraphs. Now the word processor does all the hard work; justification of the paragraphs, if necessary, is done at the click of a mouse or a keyboard shortcut, which follows an algorithm to put in appropriate spacing between words depending on their lengths — so that the final format is reasonably pleasing to the eyes. But if one has already put in the hard space character twice or more using the space bar, justification by the word processor leaves unseemly gaps in the overall text.
I often have to bear the brunt of it while writing a collaborative paper (and we shall leave it at that). However, I have also learnt that there is no reasoning or pleading with the perpetrators of this typographical offence. Some of them are quite adamant about putting two spaces, many of them having learnt how to type on a typewriter of ancient times. Curiously, the same folks often destroy computer keyboards by pounding on the keys (don’t quote me on that, though… my N is not large enough, yet).
Fortunately, most modern word processors have an efficient search-and-replace function. Evil gleam in the eyes