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Followers of Mr. Waugh

The returns continue to come in on the two-spaces-after-a-period issue. The minority: Yeah, I knew that. What’s the problem? The majority splits pretty evenly between I-can’t-break-the-habit and you-can’t-make-me-stop.

In this attachment to the unjustifiable, I see similarities to the holdouts on the split-infinitive/split-verb and stranded-preposition superstitions, and similar matters addressed in these posts. A submerged memory surfaced this afternoon, a little anecdote that identified the attitude reflected in these issues.

Evelyn Waugh was far from a model officer during the Second World War, and late one night he was wandering, drunk and disheveled, across the parade ground when he encountered his superior officer, to whom he gave a casual salute. The officer braced him about his drinking and unmilitary bearing and suggested that he should shape up.

Waugh’s response: “Surely you do not expect me to abandon the habits of a lifetime merely to gratify your whim.”



Posted by John McIntyre at 12:55 PM | | Comments (4)


You are leading a horse to water...
(A silly horse!)
Single space is the way to go, but I agree with many of your readers who use 'search and replace' to remove doubles without bothering to chastise the originator.

The best part is that if these people try to type extra spaces in their comments to your blog, they won't appear. <-Ten spaces before the first word in this sentence.

Is the officer's response recorded?    That does not sound like a good way to advance one's military career.

Becky Hendricks died the way Jersey girls do, in high heels and tight pants, after a heart attack brought on by screaming and cursing because that jerk she married tracked dirt on her carpet.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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