Monday, February 21, 2005

No, this isn't a comprehensive list. In fact, it's just one item long:

I hate it when you use the word 'whilst.'

When you use 'whilst' instead of 'while,' you sound incredibly pretentious. I imagine you sitting at your keyboard, wearing a smoking jacket and chuckling self-indulgently, imagining that you are the reincarnation of George Bernard Shaw. In reality, you are not George Bernard Shaw; you are a semi-literate who has never learned the cardinal rule of writing: simple is better.

If your 'whilst' makes me roll my eyes (and trust me here; I'm not alone), then you aren't communicating effectively. I can forgive a lot -- typos, grammatical errors, even the occasional misuse of a word -- but I can't forgive pretension.

Here's a good rule of thumb: would you actually use the word 'whilst' in spoken conversation? Unless you're Faustus -- who gets special dispensation because (a) he writes so well; and (b) from what I hear, he would use the word in spoken conversation -- I think you'd use 'while.' That, or you'd probably get hit in the face a lot.

So do use all a favor and use 'while' when you write, too. Jump off that growing bandwagon that thinks using 'whilst' earns them points for sophistication. Because it doesn't.

Okay, now that that's out of my system, any other pet peeves out there? I mean, as long as I'm on the topic...