My friend Goldie, in a short conversation recently via the comment thread on a 2017 post of his* asked me whether my moniker should have an initial capital.
That simple question got me thinking.
A bit of background
I adopted ‘pendantry’ as an Internet alias, a ‘handle’, decades ago on Usenet. It derives from a word I coined at around the same time:
pendant (n). One who, by correcting others, gives himself (or herself) just enough rope by which to hang.Me (AKA nobody important), circa 1993
Of course, that same character string has also long been used to describe ‘a loose-hanging piece of jewellery‘: and that, I am not. I needed to find a handle that was unique – and without resorting to the practice, especially common at that time, of simply appending random digits.
Adding ‘ry’ to ‘pendant’ did the trick, creating a new word intended to mean ‘engaging in the activity of being a pendant’. While still a noun, it’s still not a proper one. And as it’s a thoroughly unimportant one, it’s utterly undeserving of an initial capital – as indeed, in the Grand Scheme of Things, am I. Some might argue that it is a proper noun (which would mandate the use of a capital ‘P’) as it is a word used as a name; but it’s just one of many aliases I use on the Internet. Although it does feature with a capital ‘P’ in my 2012 post ‘Pendantry (an explication)‘, that’s purely due to the coincidence of the word’s position at the beginning of that post’s title. It’s a nickname, a label that no more demands an initial capital than does my email logon alias at my place of work; and it is no more ‘me’ than is my given name, though convention demands that I use capital letters for that.
The joke’s on me
Initially, I was quite pleased with myself for crafting the handle. It served two purposes: it afforded me a ‘get out of jail free’ card on those occasions when, while correcting others, I would get it wrong (though I do try hard not to make that error, I’m only human).
It was also intended as a trap (one that I, at the time, considered to be a humorous one): it allowed me to pounce on those who might accuse me of having a typo in my nickname – and turn the tables on them. That has indeed happened a few times over the years (especially in the early days), and although I expect that some may have seen the funny side of it, I now think that it’s very likely that many did not.
Call me stupid, but it’s only fairly recently that it’s dawned on me that my attempt to be funny has backfired. On many occasions, I’ve been addressed, or referred to, as ‘pedantry’ (with a single ‘n’). An honest mistake, and it’s one that, lately, I’ve been more and more hesitant to point out, as doing so can cause embarrasment. But, considering that it’s part of this blog’s address, it’s kind of important (well, to me at least). There is in fact a site called ‘pedantry.wordpress.com’ (with one ‘n’). It was set up in 2006, and consists of just a single blog entry by ‘tallguy’ (though it’s true that I am a guy who is tall, that alias is not one of mine). I’ve just visited that site – to see that Fandango left a comment earlier this year, one that indicates that he has made that very mistake. I wonder how many others might have done the same over the years?
I’ve long known that many people don’t recognise that the letter ‘n’ appears not once, but twice, in ‘pendantry’; but it’s only after considering Goldie’s polite enquiry whether or not he should ‘capitalize my nick’ that it struck me that there was a possible solution to this conundrum: one that could kill two birds with one stone.
Time brings opportunities for learning, and change
People don’t like being told they’re wrong; especially so when they consider the mistake they’ve made to be a trivial one. I had cause to reflect upon this earlier this year, when one new blogging acquaintance rebelled against my attempt to (as I saw it) help them to improve, and made it quite clear that my comments weren’t at all welcome. I wrote a post on the subject at the time: ‘Everything has its place‘.
The fashion for correct grammar (which I consider to be useful, on the grounds that it enhances communication) has fallen out of fashion. As with reliance on ‘sat-navs’ making the art of being able to read a map redundant, reliance on autocorrect (which my brother, quite appropriately in my view, insists should be called ‘autopervert’) has made people more familiar with typographical mistakes, and more lazy in their own writing. The Anti-Grammar-Nazi Brigade appears to be going from strength to strength, and sometimes it’s necessary to accept the inevitable.
The upshot is: it makes complete sense to draw attention to that first ‘n’… and Goldie gave me the clue I needed that has enabled me to do just that. No, my nick does not need an initial capital, I realized: it needs an internal one!
A quick trip to WordPress.com/me allowed me to change my name, to peNdantry.
You could say that I’ve grown up. (Well, in some ways, at least.)
Thanks once again, Goldie; you did indeed give me food for thought. (As well as the opportunity to craft what I hope some will consider an interesting post.)
* … which I stumbled upon while doing my duty as a member of the ?Random Raiders!, proving once again that what goes around, comes around.