minusculoyer

minuscule is the tutoyer of the internets.

none of these are new observations, but— i’ve been noticing again the “inner signals” of written communication by email and text.  orthography of course tells you loads about a person— like, in so-called real life, accent, diction, hair and clothes, smell, and so on.  are there errors?  what are their nature?  are there deliberate misspellings, abbreviated spellings like “thru”, numberslang like “l8r”, omitted apostrophes in “it’s”, are the omissions arbitrary or deliberate?  (guess: “it’s” and “its” will collapse acceptably to “its” over the coming decades, followed by the lingering illness and death of apostrophe culture as a whole.)

one of the signals i’m finding myself most attuned to is the variation in the use of all-lowercase.  typographically, as has been mentioned, i’m fond of the lowercase and its uncial script roots— hell, everyone is— and from the earliest days of the internets there’s been a taboo on the harsh mindsound of ALL CAPS.  all-lowercase is practiced rigorously by some (in certain products this requires an explicit turning-off of automatic capitalization features), and the effect is both casual and self-deprecating, though in the latter capacity it must be used with care to avoid the thing becoming its opposite.  (i’m thinking of poncy email from a certain famous designer here.)  the heart of the matter is the minusculization of the “i”, which almost looks like a little bow, doesn’t it?  you know, the dot is the head, and so on?  (nevermind.)  something i’ve never seen but expect to come from japan one of these days is an email rendering “i” in lowercase, but “You” capitalized.  a more graceful variation was sent to me recently by a very literate old friend whom i’ve missed these last couple of years, writing

i thought of you today bc i’m going to Portland on Friday to read, not that that makes robust sense.

what does make robust sense here is the lovely use in this context of the contraction “bc”, and the contrasting capitalizations of Portland and Friday.


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