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A War of Words

Which is it – till, until, or that oddball ‘til?

And how and why does it matter if its use 
is ignored by the best of writers as an abuse? 
Granted, when spoken it matters not a jot; 
when written, however, it matters a lot!
Let’s resolve this anomaly here and now,
without crushing verbal toes somehow.

Early on,“until” had always been viewed
as formal and therefore most often used.
Likewise with the shorter “till”, though its age
can be traced back farther in time and usage.
Both can be used, however, so both are fine;
though “until” is often used to start a line.  
As for “ ‘til,” and take note, it tries to get by
as a contraction, at least to the eye.
But the mind isn’t so easily fooled,
especially if it’s been properly schooled.

“‘Til” is an unfortunate amputation
butchered by those with scant education,
the “un” carelessly cut off and cleverly
replaced by a surrogate apostrophe –
and why? because it was thought ‘til
was linguistically parented to “until”
but this is now an unproven fallacy,
conflating ignorance with illiteracy!
Then, too, “‘til” has an age with a lack
of hoary history and only goes back –
believe it or not – to the early years
of the last century when it first appears.

The careful writer will continue to favor
“till” and “until” and not share the error
of  “‘til” though now part of the language
and with all the rights of literary usage;
this despite the fact that dictionaries
include it and approve its discrepancies. 
Still, there’s no substitute for good usage,
Anyway it’s too late now, the damage 
has been irrevocably done. Finally, “‘til”,  
aesthetically, at least, looks ugly as hell.

Copyright © Maurice Rigoler | Year Posted 2021


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