Tuesday, February 14, 2006

'Till Kingdom Come

Something I never knew, courtesy of American Heritage. I now realize that everyone else knew this but me.
Till and until are generally interchangeable in both writing and speech, though as the first word in a sentence until is usually preferred... Till is actually the older word, with until having been formed by the addition to it of the prefix un–, meaning “up to.” In the 18th century the spelling 'till became fashionable, as if till were a shortened form of until. Although 'till is now nonstandard, 'til is sometimes used in this way and is considered acceptable, though it is etymologically incorrect.
What did I think, that some abbreviated words just go around gaining extra letters?

I am reminded of an episode from a class at my high school, Cambridge (Mass.) Rindge and Latin. My friend Tove was in the class, as was a girl named Amanda.

The class had been talking for several weeks about the literature of Slovenia. Finally, one day, they discussed the georgraphic location of Slovenia. This prompted Amanda to shout out, "Wait! You mean there's a real country called 'Slovenia'?!"

There was a pause. The teacher, Ms. Walther, said "Yes."

Amanda thought for a minute, then asked, "Does that mean that there's a real country called 'Kingdom Come'?!"