What if we don’t capitalize the i?

“Do not forget! The first person pronoun ‘I’ is always capitalized.”

Miss Sally bawled at her students and waded back to her seat. After taking the weight off her feet, she pulled out the attendance register and called out their numbers. Finally, the class had come to an end. She smiled as she realised the brats had spared her from their mind boggling riddles; they had come in peace for her last lesson. But.

A tiny voice shattered her serenity. “What if ‘I’ isn’t in caps, Miss? I mean, what if it need not be? What would happen, then?”

“Berrrrrrtaaaaaaa! Why do you do this to me?”

Miss Sally’s exasperated shriek still looms in her ears. Berta, in these twenty years, has received scores of answers to her question, but none satisfactory, she assures me. People would say, “English is a funny language, dear and this is a rule to stay.” or ” ‘I’ has to be in caps, else it wouldn’t pacify our ego.” and even  “You know, it wouldn’t look good if I wasn’t ‘I’, right?” A German once kindly explained to her that, ‘I’ comes from the German ‘ich’. It was never meant to be capitalized but then had been done so by the English. Finally, he added that ‘I’ may even have a religious reference.

 

After meeting the German, Berta decided to quit searching for the perfect answer, as she feared any such answer would make the world unhappy. If I became i, then people would be one rule short to follow. Autocorrect would have less work to do. Maybe, we would all become less selfish and even more carefree. Surely it would lead to a war between England and Germany. And how dare she forget? The transition could definitely not happen; it would be blasphemous!

 

As we ended our interview for the ‘Queer’ series, in a shocking revelation, Berta tells me that, it isn’t just I and i that troubles her but most capitalizations do. So, I ask her if she’s dyslexic. Her reply leaves me speechless. She said, “Oh no! It’s just that i don’t believe in capitalism”.

At that moment, I swear, even I could hear Miss Sally scream.

-Shruthi Srinivasan

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Shruthi Srinivasan

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