Despite my hard earned reputation as a curmudgeon, I’m pretty freewheeling in actuality. Yes I have the odd rant now and then, but in general I’m content to let people get on with their lives as they see fit, as long as they afford me the same privilege.
One thing I do like to do in my life, as many of you are aware, is play about with the English language. I love playing with the words and constructions, and I’m not above bending the rules to the point where they acquire a greenstick fracture. To do this convincingly, though, you have to understand how the language is supposed to work, or you just appear to be illiterate. You need to understand the rules, or you look like a complete dimwit. Blogland is full of dimwits. And don’t get me started on the sheer illiteracy that is rampant on Facebook. They do not understand the rules, and unless you understand them, when you do not adhere to them you just look as dumb as a bag of wet mice.
There is one rule I generally adhere to assiduously, with only very rare exceptions. The rule is a sentence has an initial capital letter. It just does. Don’t argue with me. The only time I might make a very rare exception would be if I used an apostrophe to indicate a missing aspirate, such as is commonly found in East London. That is the only exception, and it’s a valid way of working.
However, one of the biggest multinationals in the known universe is so packed full of such utterly ignorant people that they don’t understand the initial capital rule. They simply don’t get it, or if they do they wilfully ignore it, but I’m going for the idea they just don’t know, since they are dullards.
Even worse. I is the first person singular nominative case personal pronoun. It is always, invariably, capitalised, unless you happen to be e e cummings, a poet who also irritates me a good deal. But I is always capitalised. It’s an inviolable rule execept of numbskull corporations and their knotheaded advertising agencies. I requires a capital. It’s in the rules.
I refer to McDonalds, and the execrable slogan i’m lovin’ it. Somebody please explain to me exactly why the initial letter isn’t capitalised, because I’m buggered if I can get a grasp on this. Is it to make the slogan look a bit quirky, a bit street? To me, it doesn’t look quirky or street, it just looks wrong. It irritates me every time I see it. i is a mathematical symbol indicating the imaginary number of the square root of -1. I is a pronoun. That is how it works.
There is a more widespread concern here than my ill temper. This particular advertising slogan is widespread and profuse, and even appears on the box for children’s Happy Meals. There’s a lot of debate these days about declining educational standards, particularly effective use of English, yet every day those selfsame children are exposed to the idea that the rules don’t exist, that it’s absolutely fine to be an illiterate clod.
That irritates me even more.