Friday, April 19, 2013

Reading Between and the Lines

It has been a long time since I ranted about some grammatical thing that irks me, so I hope you can finally cease your waiting and rest easy with this new post on prepositions and their symbolic stand-ins.

What is a preposition, you're asking? Well, if you're asking, you've probably come to the wrong place, but all you really need to know is that the following words are prepositions: "from," "between," and "to."

You probably know already that these particular prepositions travel in predictable pairs—from Point A to Point B, or between Point A and Point C.

You don't need Li'l Language Lady to tell you which word to pair with another.

But when you start using symbols instead of words, all your sense  seems to vanish (excuse me; when I say "you," I am referring not actually to you, but a hypothetical person who is certainly not you!)

It is generally accepted that the en dash ( – ) is the character of choice when separating two numbers to indicate a range, and that the en dash used in this context reads aloud as "to." So when you put "March 3 – March 8" on your calendar, you know you really mean "March 3 to March 8." Easy peasy, right?

Then why, pray tell, do people write things like, "Registration will be open between March 3 – March 8." ? Why, when it clearly would be read as the nonsensical "between March 3 to March 8."

Am I being too harsh? Does the en dash have an alternate meaning as the word "and"?

And did you understand the clever jumble of wordplay I did in the title of this post, which makes slightly more sense if you think of en dashes as "the lines?"