The debate rages on: one or two spaces after a period?

LawProfBlawg at Above the Law argues in defense of two spaces, linking it to a simpler, easier, pre-smartphone time: “I think the single spacing crowd is comprised of people who are always rushing someplace.”

Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl, prefers one space, and notes in Business Insider that most style guides, coding platforms, and typesetters do as well. “Everyone who makes the rules today agrees: It’s a one-space world.”

Another case of old man shouting at kids on his lawn?

Is this discourse simply an excuse for grammatical one-upmanship, or does that one extra space really make a difference?

Speaking in tongues

By Deborah Gaines
President, Deborah Gaines Associates

If you want a great name for something, ask a linguist. One of my favorite sites is Language Log, where the following terms are in daily use.

Autocorrect has been around long before the iPhone.

Snowclones. Variations on popular phrases. When Watson wiped the floor with the humans on Jeopardy, Ken Jennings snowcloned The Simpsons by cracking, “I, for one, welcome our new computer overlords.” Other examples include “I’m a doctor, not a _______” and “The _______ from hell.”

The Cupertino Effect occurs when computer spell checkers substitute the wrong word (and copy editors don’t catch it); it was coined by European journalists who kept replacing “cooperation” with “cooperatino.”

Crash Blossoms were named for a headline about a musician whose career prospered after her parents died: “Violinist Linked to Air Crash Blossoms.” They can be ambiguous (“Hanging Meat Causes Stir in South St. Louis”) or just plain hilarious (“Man Accused of Killing Lawyer Gets New Attorney”).

Mountweasel is the official name for the cartographer’s trick of including fake locations to protect map copyrights. When I start a band, I will name it The Mountweasels.

Finally, ace copy editor Carol Fisher Staller drew my attention to Shatner Commas, which she described as “oddly placed commas that don’t serve any actual purpose, but make it look like you should pause, as William Shatner does when delivering lines.”

Who, knew?