Exercice de Style:


This is to announce a policy that I have already implemented. When stating names, I no longer recognize “middle initials,” as my countrymen rather thoughtlessly call them, when they follow a full given name. The usage is peculiar to the United States (and to Canada, I suppose), and it is very, very ugly.

So: no more Robert A M Stern, no more Michael J Fox — just to pick two names out of the air. Either Robert Stern, R A M Stern (a wonderful British custom),  or some permutation of Robert Arthur Morton Stern (“Robert Morton Stern” is pretty fantastic, don’t you think?). Either Michael Fox, M J Fox, or (his real name) Michael Andrew Fox. The only person allowed to go by one initial and a surname is R Crumb, and when he’s no longer with us, nobody has the privilege. You will see why in a minute.

You’ll also note another policy, one that has been in force at this site since its inception. If I dislike solitary letters (other, of course, than the indefinite pronoun and the very definite “I”), I execrate what, again rather thoughtlessly, are called “periods,” when they do not mark the ends of sentences.

Given the rule to which “R Crumb” is an exception, there ought to be no uncertainty about what the “M” in “M Poirot” stands for.

I don’t for a moment claim that any of these policies of mine are “correct.” I believe that they are readily comprehensible, and as integral to my prose style as my fondess for the kind of thought that requires semicolons. That is all that matters.

One Response to “Exercice de Style:

  1. Nom de Plume says:

    Harrumph! And let us add to the list of logical exceptions M Butterfly. Note that I never use “L.” (Is that the end of the sentence, of the period after the middle initial. Love, Leigh. (Ohhh, lovely!)