When I was about 12, I got a copy of “Dr. Who – The Game of Time and Space,” the board game from Games Workshop. In it, you moved around the galaxy, visiting worlds and trying to reconstruct the Key to Time. You had to fight classic Dr. Who villains like Daleks and Cybermen. In fighting them, you compared their strength to your defence. Ever since, I have trouble spelling the word any other way.

I have no idea when or why I started spelling the word as “grey”.

In junior high, I discovered that some people wrote their sevens with a horizontal bar across the vertical part of the 7, and that they wrote their 1 with a serif at the top instead of a plain line. I thought that was cool, and began doing it regularly. My math teacher in high school saw that I did that and asked if I’d been an Army brat.

I got a degree in theatre arts, and still have a tendency to spell theatre that way.

As part of that degree, I spent a semester in the UK studying theatre arts. Most UK phrases I learned never stuck with me, although I’m always on the lookout for a chance to use the phrase “panto horse”. One that didn’t is “with something in,” as in the sentence, “I don’t like banana bread with nuts in.”

The space community talks about things being on orbit, much as New Yorkers will talk about standing on line. I’ve written things for public consumption where I’ve mentioned “repairs to Hubble on orbit” and had friends say that it should be “in orbit”.

What are your affectations?

11 thoughts on “Affectations

  1. I do the bar-through-the-7 thing too. I may in fact have picked it up from Army brats at school.

    I certainly picked up a habit of putting a tail on lowercase zs at the same time as one of the two ways I do lowercase fs, from a teacher I liked.

    Plus of course I have this crazy accent.

  2. never mind “affectations”, i consider myself lucky if i don’t get confused at all the entire day without having to stop and think, “wait, how do i say/write this correctly?”

    i’m also guilty of spouting cantonese slang in literal english translation… the confused looks on the caucasian audience’s faces are worth the accidental spouting effort if i’m not so easily embarrassed…

  3. Being of said Army Brat persuasion, I have the 7’s thing as well. I do it on capital Z’s also. (Not sure why there). I have a hard time with Theatre also, having picked up said hobby overseas.

    Funny enough ones I have used for years are starting to make their way into the common American vocab lately. Like Snarky and Git. Still the best is one I wish I used more often, but it has on occasion come in handy, Gob Smacked!

  4. Asai: that’s not an affectation, that’s the result of being astride two cultures. 🙂

    Storme: I forgot that I picked up the habit of writing an ampersand as a curly E with a tail on top and bottom from a wonderful college teacher, and how I write cursive fs at the start of a word from another teacher.

    Kismet: I blame the Internet.

  5. I have done the bar-through-the-7, bar-through-the-z, and slash-through-the-0 since calculus in high school. It made it easier to distinguish between 1 and 7, 2 and z, and 0 and O.

    Also, I got in the habit of munging between print and cursive for my capital letters. Certain capital letters, like A and E, I always write in cursive. Others, like Q, I always print.

  6. I do the numbers/letters bars as well, for all the same reasons. I will also write a date in only one of two ways:

    18 Jun 2007 [if it’s designed to be human read]

    2007-06-18 [if it’s designed for a computer filesystem]

    It’s to the point that I say “18 June”, too. It’s all from being a military brat, I guess.

    I’ve also adopted manager-speak—“I don’t disagree” when you’re passive-aggressively agreeing, for example.

  7. Sorry, but I don’t think of any of these as affectations. They aren’t displays (pretentiousness), nor are they intended to give a false impression. While there is a sense of artificiality, it is no stronger than in any lingual situation. When I think of affectations, I think of a now-deceased Alabama state employee who carried a cane (unnecessarily), always wore French cuffs with heavy gold cufflinks, and would perch on his desk to answer his phone with a distinctive “helleauuuu.” All of that was done for effect, done with the express intent of presenting a particular “face” to the world. You’re talking eccentricities, perhaps, or modes of expression, but not affectations. We all have things that we appropriate from our surroundings and experiences that become part of us. We don’t do them consciously; they’re part of us through long usage. Or perhaps we do them because we find some personal and very private pleasure in so doing. In my own case, for example, I make my checkmarks (tics, if you prefer) “backwards” often enough to have people question whether I’m a southpaw (that goes by spells and has its roots I know not where); I’ve read enough 19th-century letters to adopt crossing my “t”s without lifting pen from paper in a backwards swoop; I’ve used the “three-dot triangle” for “therefore” since high school science; and I reasonably consistently think of “committee,” “church,” and similar collectives as plural rather than singular nouns as most around me do. The latter, I think, is thoughtful choice, a matter of belief and principle, though lots of British literature and even more 19th-century letters probably play their parts in accustoming me to the sound.

  8. … I hate seperating sentences…hence the use of … I also like to think it helps to drive the general population a bit nuts when I type out emails.

    I have a decent command of english grammer…yet…I hate to use it properly.

  9. I’ve always thought of these things as affectations, since they’re things I took on deliberately, rather than absorbing them through osmosis. That’s not a value judgment on my part, though the word certainly has connotations of falseness and pretense. So I guess I’d agree with you, that they’re things I’ve adopted as part of me because I find them valuable for one reason or another rather than something I’m doing for show or to impress others.

  10. I do crosses through my z’s and 7’s. These started when I was taking German in high school and my professor wrote like that.
    Also, when I’m writing in lower case, I write my t’s with actual tails on them and my i’s with a little tail at the top and bottom. Those, I completely blame on physics and calculus so that I wouldn’t confuse them with mathematical signs.
    In general, I will tend to easily pick up other people’s eccentricities of writing if I look at it enough, which in this digital age now, I don’t do very much anymore.

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