Whether or not rules of language matter is open to debate. Some, like lawyers, doctors and priests, will probably tell you that accuracy and stability in language is important. There’s some merit in that: you don’t want your surgeon whipping out this bit instead of that bit because someone forgot to update his textbook. But equally, language is a living thing, constantly evolving by adding new words(whoever heard of “lockdown” until recently?), re-assigning old ones, and sometimes making things become their exact opposite (which is why “hot” and “cool” can mean the same thing to different generations).
Why this obsession with language? Because I want to change it. Specifically, I want to change capital letters. We Use Capitals To Denote Things That Are Important. The rules of grammar tell you that people’s names have capitals because people are important. Names of locations – towns, counties, regions – have capitals because they are important. Even company names have capitals because they are important.
What’s missing from this list? Plants. Animals. Birds.
So according to the grammar lawyers, I can’t write ‘Red Kite’ or ‘Killer Whale’. Except if one is a pet, of course – capitalising the name of a species if they are your pet is fine. Fido is important because I am important. But Fido’s brother the generic spaniel is not. Unless, of course, his name includes a reference to something else important. Thus is the Alsatian exalted, while the German shepherd at least partially elevated over the poor, unimportant poodle.
This may all sound trivial, but it isn’t. We capitalise the things that matter, and apparently only the world of Mankind matters. Keeping our fauna and flora relegated to lowercase helps to keep them relegated in importance, and if there is one things that Covid has taught us, it is that the non-Human world can bite back. So I’m starting a one-man campaign to give the biological world the respect it deserves. It’s Red Deer and Aardvark all the way from now on.
Now, how do I turn the grammar checker off…?