(English as she is wrote)

According to Wikipedia

In more recent digital usage, tildes on either side of a word or phrase have sometimes come to convey a particular tone that “let[s] the enclosed words perform both sincerity and irony”, which can pre-emptively defuse a negative reaction. For example, BuzzFeed journalist Joseph Bernstein interprets the tildes in the following tweet:

in the ~ spirit of the season ~ will now link to some of the (imho) #Bestof2014 sports reads. if you hate nice things, mute that hashtag.

as a way of making it clear that both the author and reader are aware that the enclosed phrase — “spirit of the season” — “is cliche and we know this quality is beneath our author, and we don’t want you to think our author is a cliche person generally”.

Because, Heaven forfend that anybody take the time to learn about inverted commas/quotation marks, eh?

I mean, why bother to say ‘in the spirit of the season’ will now […] ² … like we have since the use of single inverted commas for that express purpose became a standard … when you can reuse an entirely different symbol (used for entirely different purposes, in a number of different languages, but never for that one in any of them) … and require people to guess what you mean instead?


The problem is that far too many people, who really shouldn’t, communicate by way of the written word these days — texting and social media have turned them all into readers when … in days gone by … they’d rather have had a root canal with no anesthetic than read anything.

As a result, they write as well … but have few, if any, comprehension skills; you can tell from the appalling spelling, grammar and misuse of words that mean something else altogether — if Failbook and text/IM messages are anything to go by … pretty soon we’ll all be able to read the Canterbury Tales in the original Chaucerian vernacular with no trouble at all.

If you want to write, learn to read first — otherwise, two monkeys with one typewriter between them will produce something more coherent in five minutes than any of your aphasic gibberish will ever be.

Because, unless you’re actually asking a question, ending a sentence with a question mark (instead of a full-stop/period or exclamation-mark) doesn’t get you down with the ‘sick’ kids … it makes you look illiterate!

¹ Because we’re all the bastard offspring of gEOffrI Chauncer and Liam Shakyspear and can spell things however we like, without any concern for grammatical or orthographic standards (or even actual words) — who cares whether anyone understands us, all that matters is that we express ourselves, right?

² You know … actually including the full cliché ‘in the spirit of the season’ rather than only part of it — almost as if you understood what about it is a cliché rather than simply repeating what you heard from someone who read about a YouTube comment quoted in a tweet that ‘spirit of the season’ was one (no, it isn’t ‘ironic’ to get it wrong ³ ).

³ Not even on purpose — something else you need to learn about is the difference between things that are ironic and things that aren’t.

⁴ Over the years, I observed that youth culture had turned good things ‘bad’ … then ‘ill’ … now ‘sick’ … and mused upon what it might develop into … wondered where it had left to go.

Will good things be comatose?

On life-support?

(six feet) Under?

(pushing up) Daisies?


Perhaps the solution to the problem of what U.S. youth culture will do when it runs out of the last remaining totally awesome hyperbole at its disposal would be to treat hyperbole as a (finite) resource and ration it?



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