IT’S NOT ALRIGHT

 

“Private transportation is morally untenable,” I haughtily told a classmate of mine in grad school.  I was just giving her a hard time, but I did live without a car for my first five years in Seattle.  I spent many, many hours riding buses, waiting for buses, walking to bus stops, studying bus schedules, and generally filling up my single, childless time with transportation issues instead of driving a Miata from one party to the next as I should’ve done in my twenties.

 

When I finished school and got a job teaching at a high school some 20 miles from my swinging bachelorette apartment, I bought a tiny Toyota Tercel.  Bussing to work would have entailed catching a 5 am bus and transferring twice to get to work at 7.  And living in the neighborhood near the school would have entailed shopping at the grocery store favored by the gang bangers in the red hooded sweatshirts and covering my ears every time a plane landed at the airport next door.

 

Even though I swore I would still take the bus sometimes, of course I didn’t.  I gained several pounds because I no longer walked half a mile here, two miles there, to catch a bus to someplace else.  I missed the local characters I used to see, like the Symptomatic Nerve Gas Guy.  But private transportation is so fast!  So convenient!

 

I never ventured on the Metro bus system again, until today.

 

I’m enrolled in a seminar on copywriting techniques (not to be confused with copyrighting techniques, which is completely different) held at a hotel downtown.  I called the hotel yesterday to check on their parking availability.

 

“Oh yes,” a chirpy desk clerk told me, “it’s $7.00 for the first hour, and $2.00 per hour after that.”

 

Since that’s a lot of money (I’d be parked downtown all day), and I hate driving downtown (dodge the fearless pedestrians while sandwiched between delivery vehicles!) and I’m a conscientious citizen concerned about global warming and stuff, I opted for public transport.

 

When I hopped aboard this morning, I looked around for my old friends.  Alas, no Symptomatic Nerve Gas Guy was in evidence.  Also no wild-eyed derelicts with religious delusions.  Not even a disaffected teen with piercings in strange places.  Just me and a whole bunch of boring business commuters.  What a let down!

 

It distressed me further when my instructor started talking about the need to break grammatical rules when writing copy.  I’m fine with that.  Do it all the time.  Really.  But then she explained that while we used to use the phrase “all right” to express the sentiment “all right,” in modern times it has been shortened to “alright.”

 

No!  It has not!  There’s no such word as “alright,” and it does not improve the selling power of one’s copy to pretend that there is.  From Wikipedia:

 

Alright is an alternative spelling of “all right”. It is usually used to indicate that something is good but not great (so-so): “The play was alright.” It is also used as an expression of great pleasure: “We won the championship! Alright!”

Used as a definite distinction from “all right” as in “everything” (all) “correct” (right). To represent “kind of” or “sort of.”

Although “Alright” has been in use for a little over a century, it is considered by most experts to be an illegitimate spelling of the word. This is in contrast to the similar words “already” and “altogether”, which have been used as compound words since the Middle Ages.

Even though it often appears in print, the use of “alright” in any context other than slang is generally frowned upon and may be perceived as purposefully breaking convention.

We don’t want to break convention, do we?  Not without a good reason we don’t.  All right, that’s settled.

When I attend the second day of the seminar tomorrow, I will take the bus again, because the mass mover experience was all right.

So just ask me if you need to know how to get to downtown Seattle, or you have any grammatical quandaries, all right?

 

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32 thoughts on “

  1. I’ve always been confused about “all right”, and “alright.” Sometimes it’s better to just say “Okey Dokey” and be done with it.  Or, maybe not.  How are the kids?

  2. Depends on who you’re writing to… 😉 There are no rules in copywriting that do not take the audience into account. If you’re writing to English teachers, you’d better meet all the strict grammar rules (as defined today, because they’ll change next year. I remember being told one year to use serial commas and the next to NEVER use serial commas. (Oh, for grins, go to wikipedia and read the entry on serial commas. Keep reading past the boring front matter. My favorite rule to break is beginning a sentence with a preposition. Not quite “But wait, you also get…” but similar. We all have our list of “rules we can break for good cause” and “rules no one should ever ever break no matter what.”

  3. I used to work at a wonderful home health agency. I adored working for them. What I did not adore: hearing clerical staff say that a new nurse needed to be “orientated”. (Grit teeth now.) 🙂 Lisa

  4. There comes a time when we have to draw a line in the sand and say enough.  If we allow “alright” today, tomorrow kids will be getting away with “ain’t.”  Next thing you know we’ll have a pool hall in town and then you know what we’ll have.  Trouble.  Grammar is what sets us apart from the animals.  Grammar… and opposable thumbs.

  5. Guilty as charged, I guess, since I tend to break rules with abandon. Not complete abandon, mind you, just ordinary abandon.And hey! I done figured it up and have ascertained that parking at your seminar hotel for a day costs more than a month’s rent on my first apartment.

  6. Ms. Grammar-and-spelling fanatic over here agrees fully. Alright is not all right. But people are getting away with so much butchering of the language that it’s almost unnoticeable. BTW, I’m okay with sentence fragments. And it turns out that ending with a preposition was based on some misunderstanding in which Latin grammar was supposed to apply to English. Not so. So that’s wiped off the books. Or, it’s something the books have been wiped off of. How’s that?I’m all for public trans myself, but I’m a wuss at night. That’s when I’m sure the guy with the .357 Magnum in his rolled-up newspaper will turn up in my subway car.Lynn

  7. Ya gotta draw the line somewhere!  Here’s one for you:  I’m reading Richard Lederer’s book, Comma Sense, and I’m concerned about the section on the question mark.  He seems to think that a sentence that starts with “I wonder” is a question.  To wit: “I wonder if what just dropped out of that chicken is edible?”  I my experience, such a sentence is a statement and should end with a period.  Am I crazy?  I wonder if I’m crazy.

  8. I spent all three years of grad school and nine months as an employee riding the bus to work every day.  We finally moved to a part of town sufficiently suburban as to avoid any convenient bus route.  But it was nice while it lasted.  My new commute is less than five miles so I don’t lose much of my day, but I miss having a half hour to read every day. 

  9. You can’t fight it! The English language is doomed! I see it every day in my community college classes! (and the overuse of exclamation points is another topic altogether (or is that “all together?”) Anyway, RYC on the all-natural cleaner – it’s very simple: for 1 pint of water, add 1/4 c. vinegar and 2 Tbs. baking soda. For window cleaner, leave out the baking soda 😉 We were not precise on our measurements at all.

  10. Maybe tomorrows bus ride will be more exciting. I used to use Chicagos public transportation all the time. I think it’s still the same, which is not a good thing.

  11. Just for kicks, also look up the way the word ‘often’ is pronounced.  I thought I was a grammatical psychotic at times…but my ex-boyfriend nearly had a coronary every time I pronounced ‘often’ as ‘off-ten’.  Apparently, the correct pronunciation is ‘offen’.  Go figure.
    Great entry.    I love your writing style.

  12. I have been having a difficult time with all right and alright any more. But my memory is slipping and I’m having trouble is it everyone and anyone or every one and any one? 
    What blows my mind is the new word ‘woken’…. ackkk!

  13. Ahhh. I have missed your wit.
    My part of the world steaddfastly refuses public transport to ‘keep the streets clean,’ a.k.a., keep the poor and needy in the slums. We don’t want them riding into our neighborhoods and stripmalls, do we? -Rain

  14. The only public transportation we have a Tulsa is a guy named Ed who drives a tractor with a trailer full of hay behind it. The good news is that I got to second base twice in the hay with fellow commuters.

  15. I tell you what… I grew up walking everywhere in Baltimore. Riding the bus til I was 16 CONSTANTLY. Then I moved to the boonies. Public transportation? Wuzzat? Without cars we would be forced to stay within a mile or two of home. And there isn’t much in that range! Bikes ? You take your life in your hand with the commuters in this bedroom community of Lexus, Land Rover, and SUVs for miles. Cept on the walking/bike path…which leads to no where. Which is where I prefer to go when I bike or walk. :^DWish it were different in our area. :^(

  16. RYCMan, you’re scorin’ points left and right with me lately. :)I’m gonna have to pad the vote next time around. SHHHH (between you and me!)

  17. Too funny, I am going to have my son read this, for two reasons, he is a huge supporter of rapid transit (and gives me huge grief over my Benz) and secondly because he is a writer and swears by Wikipidia, which until last year I did not know even existed!…LOL
    I came by because Marklabouf spot lighted your blog today (5/16/07) about Fallwell, but since I could never stomach the man, I did not wish to leave him one single comment.
    Love you blog site.

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