But that's no reason to feel left out in this season of creative wordsmithery, so I've decided to come up with a low-effort but life-enhancing literary endeavour that even fairly lazy folk can cheerfully take part in. As the chief representative of EMPIRE, I hereby declare November 2005 to be No More God-awful Sloppy Posts Month – NoMoGoSloPoMo! And participation is simple yet challenging. All you need to do is agree to abide by the following guidelines for the duration of one month. Are you capable of doing such a thing? Would you even want to? Read on, gentle reader, and discover...
The Six Commandments of NoMoGoSloPoMo
1) Thou shalt not squee.
I know, I know – this one is going to be terribly difficult for some people to even consider, let alone achieve, but if I can do it, so can you. And I can do it, oh yes. If Christopher Eccleston (*) comes dancing down my street wearing nothing but a small teatowel and a large grin, I will NOT be saying the word "squee". It will not pass my lips. I will certainly be inviting him in for a hot beverage and waiting with interest to see what occurs subsequently, but I will not be saying the word "squee". No. Don't listen for it. It won't be happening. (Although I imagine that there may well be other interesting sound effects to listen out for, who can say?) The only circumstances in which the use of words such as "squee" would still be permissible is to demonstrate interesting points about internet language usage, but even then, these terms should be quarantined safely between quote marks, where they cannot infect the rest of your sentence. And even then, be sure wash your hands afterwards, just to be on the safe side.
(* Or for that matter, David Tennant – never let it be said that EMPIRE is not an equal-opportunity organization.)
2) Thou shalt exclaim things other than "OMG!" and "WTF?"
Now, I want to make it quite clear that EMPIRE is not against exclamations of anger, bitterness, resentment, frustration or righteous indignation. In fact, we are firmly in favour of these things. We are not even against rudeness in principle, so long as it is expressed with style. Better out than in, we say. We only want people to use their imaginations – the English language has so many delightful ways of expressing these feelings, ranging from archaically quaint to cuttingly contemporary, so it's a shame not to make full use of them. Why not try exclaiming "Strewth!", "Sblood!", "Hell's teeth!, "Satan on a scooter!" or "Beelzebub on a bike!"? And why call your enemies "l00zerz!!" when you could dismiss them as "a quorum of ignominious galactophages"? Why not, indeed.
3) Thou shalt not commit punctuation abuse.
And when I say it, I mean it!!!11111111eleventy-one. There will be none of this sort of thing, even if you think it's OMG TEH FUNNEH!!! One punctuation mark at a time is quite enough for anyone, and greed in such matters is so unbecoming. Also, learn where apostrophes go and use them properly. It's big, it's clever, and its big cleverness goes without saying.
4) Thou shalt not promulgate false spellings.
Now, I hate to disillusion anyone, but I'm going to have a crack at it anyway. Intentional misspellings of words are not as funny as many people think they are. There is nothing humorous about the vandalism of a lovely language, and writing like a sensible grown-up is in fact a Good Thing (TM) and should be encouraged. Feel free to express yourself in ironically naive baby-talk for the other eleven months of the year, if you really want to, but NoMoGoSloPoMo is about trying to be a bit cleverer than that. Yes, wit is the new snark, originality is the new slavish emulation, and impressive vocabularies and coherent sentence structure are the new L33T haXX0r 5k1LLz (and as such, are to be embraced, not Ph34Red).
5) Thou shalt spread the tenets of EMPIRE by word and deed.
This means promoting the principles of EMPIRE by your own actions, in the hope that others will learn from your example. Read your own posts before you post them, and spend a few minutes admiring your own sparkling way with words and improving minor inconsistencies. (And if you find nothing to admire, you may wish to reconsider posting at all.) When you see others posting in a less enlightened fashion, do not criticize them in an unsubtle and unconstructive way. Instead, demonstrate the superiority of your own chosen methods of self-expression by posting as you would wish to be posted to. Be pleasant, and show them that a form of self-expression is possible that does not involve wholesale abuse of the shift key. If the literary quality of another person's posts is truly intolerable, refrain from outright flame wars and try to use other coping mechanisms. These may include (but are not restricted to) rolling of the eyes, supercilious raising of the eyebrows, or putting the kettle on. (If need be, the caffeinated beverage you make can be really strong.)
6) For one month thou shalt observe the rules of EMPIRE, and only then may thou rest.
Obviously not everyone can be perfect
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So, who is with me? Together we may not be able to write 100,000 words of saleable literature, but perhaps we can make each other's friends pages a nicer place to be, if just for a little while. So when you see someone abusing the English language this November, don't just say no. Just say NoMoGoSloPoMo....