No one capitalizes me anymore. Me, as in the first-person pronoun I, of the nominative case.
Perhaps it is symptomatic of a culture that sees no sense of anything beyond me. Or I. Or is it i?
I shudder to think. Or do i shudder to think?
A rudimentary rule of capitalization, one children usually learn in kindergarten, has now been shoved aside. It’s not that people don’t know the rule; they just choose to ignore it. Why? Everyone else is doing it. Hitting the shift key requires far too much time and effort. Fortunately, the more recent upgrades of Word and other software take the excruciating work out of it, capitalizing automatically. But if that convenience is not available (when texting every moment’s move or thought, or posting equally vital information on Facebook or Twitter) then what? Relying on that which was drilled into their malleable, young minds in the first year of formal education might be too much.
Besides, the techno-wizards at Apple (or apple) don’t use Iphone or Ipod. The lower case-I would contend for lower brains–attracts more attention. Being grammatically correct does not translate into profits. If CEO Steve Jobs had been concerned about proper capitalization, would he have made $749 million the past decade?
But consider the consternation of this beleaguered pronoun, doomed to lower case status simply because of technology and gimmickry designed to simplify life, while paradoxically making it more frazzled and hectic. So much so that we can’t take the time to capitalize the more important single letter word in the English language
I, for one, feel I‘s pain and, as an English teacher, I remain determined to rectify this injustice, even if only in my own classroom, microcosm as it is of the entire world.
The first day of school, I always inform my students, many of whom are seniors planning to attend college, that one of my pet peeves is not capitalizing I. I relate how I refuse to answer e-mails from anyone-many them fellow teachers)–who carelessly ignore the rule. Of course, my students are incredulous that I could be so condescending and downright rude, but I ask them at what point in their academic life they learned the rule. “Kindergarten, first grade,” they reply. “And you are seniors,” I respond, writing the following equation on the board: i=0. Their eyes bulge beyond the basic slits of indifference and sleep deprivation when I add that one such infraction should preclude them from graduating.
Of course, I could never get way with enforcement of such a transgression, no matter how egregious. Parents and administrators would have me crucified. But wouldn’t being a martyr, passionately unwavering against such a transgression, be the hope of every English teacher?
Think of the horror, the unjust expectation of requiring students to adhere to such an anachronistic triviality. I realize it would be extending them beyond their scholarly capabilities, considering many of them can’t say for sure where the Gettysburg Address was given or when the War of 1812 was fought.
But that’s history, and we shouldn’t expect them to remember useless information, like events and dates–and rules of capitalization.
After all, they can always look them up on their iphones.