Grammar, in general, is one of the most ubiquitously disliked subjects in education and modern life. However, grammar is essential in assuring understanding and effective communication. Grammar can be interesting and even humorous at times. Nonetheless, I will warn readers that the following article will be, probably, only truly appreciated by logophiles.
When I read any literature, informative or otherwise, I try to absorb every thought out of the writing. I bask in the array of colorful adjectives, dance in the verbs, and parley with the nouns. I pause at each comma, ponder at each question mark, yield to each period, and come to a screeching halt at each exclamation point. When one is so infatuated with words, it is not hard for one to see why it causes him such pain when there is an unforgivable mistake in the artwork.
I may forgive a run-on sentence with slight annoyance, shake my head in sadness as I pass a comma-lacking list, and even wearily excuse uncreative adjective use; but I absolutely will not excuse misspellings. Each word means something distinctive, each word is different from each other. Though a word may be strong enough to bear the weight of multiple meanings, the word is still a separate entity from every other word. To misspell a word is to take away the meaning, and thus, the identity. I am, decidedly, not the best speller to have ever walked the earth, however, I respect the words I enlist well enough to put in an effort to call them by name and not by characteristic.
I may forget, on occasion, whether to use “affect” or “effect” in a phrase, but I promptly correct myself out of common courtesy for the words–effect, a noun, cannot affect something the way affect can–as they come from two completely different Latin roots. I don’t indulge in abbreviations, even widely accepted forms, on a regular basis as it is a nickname given to the word without its consent. To say “It’s a mini-duck” is such a gaffe as it takes away a large part of “miniature” and completely annihilates “duckling.” Both of these words–”miniature” and “duckling”–have traversed several languages, dialects, and ages simply to fall down dead at the tongue of an uneducated public? For shame!
Many of these faux pas may be excused as common ignorance of the speaking public, however, when a word is forever altered into an infinitely different state of meaning, this is unacceptable. I do not harp upon each reader to return to Old English, though it has its redeeming qualities, but I do implore you all to think. The “forever altered” word of which I speak is Utopia. Most readers will undoubtedly think “perfect place,” but this is incorrect. An English-learner would recognize something amiss with the word as it is always capitalized, and yet the English speakers pass it over without consideration.
Let us dissect the word Utopia using its Greek roots. U from οu meaning “no” and topia from topos meaning “place,” thus the word literally means “no place.” Some quick sleuthing will reveal that the reason “Utopia” is always capitalized, if spelled correctly, is due to its origin. Sir Thomas More, or Saint Thomas More, was a writer, Catholic priest, and designated a “reformation martyr” by the Church of England. More is best known for his staunch opposition to the Protestant Reformation, especially the Church of England, and for his creation of the word “Utopia.”
The word comes from the title of More’s 1516 work in Latin, “Utopia,” a tale of an island nation with an ideal socio-political system. The title was meant to be a pun, by most accounts, as eutopia (eu-good, topos-place) was already an established word at the time of Utopia’s inception. Utopia is a word with a legitimate claim to power in our lexicon, accepted as “a place reminiscent of Thomas More’s Utopia; a place having ideal socio-political status” but this usage is rarely how the public uses Utopia. Eutopia is to be used when referring to a simply good place, not when denoting political perfection. This misunderstanding has led to eutopia’s obsoletion.
Public, I urge of you, do not create another Utopia, but rather be happy in the eutopia you have. Lo, as I type this clarification, a hope-destroying, ever-present red squiggle appears with each eutopia I write.