1. John Carlo
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    John Carlo Active Member

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    till vs 'til

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by John Carlo, Oct 24, 2014.

    Okay, for shortening the word until, it seems till is more correct than 'til these days, according to several sources I found online, but it looks and feels wrong. Can I write 'til without an issue? Would an editor turn around and have me change it to till. I hate the double L in it, and traditionally you put an apostrophe in the place of letters, so I don't get it. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
     
  2. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is reputed that Hitler said, of the U.S.A., that they'd never pick up a rifle if it meant putting down a cash till...which means that if you omit the apostrophe, you have two different words spelt exactly the same.

    But why do you need to shorten the word? Speech?
     
  3. John Carlo
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    John Carlo Active Member

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    But they are not spelled exactly the same. That is the problem I'm having. Omitting the apostrophe is one thing, but there is an extra L besides that. The word until only has one L, which is why 'til seems more appropriate than till.

    Shortening the word is more of a sentence rhythm thing for me, not just speech. But you make a good point. I'll try just using the whole word, and changing something else if I have to.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Though you may not believe it, till with the same meaning as until is the elder of the two forms; until is the newer. So, truth be told, till is not a truncation of until. We believe it to be so for the same reason we believe that asparagus is a corruption of sparrowgrass, which it never, ever was, save for the small span of time when an erroneous folk etymology attempted to cement that non-fact into the language, and the doubt remains with us today. The apostrophe we place in front of 'till, believing we are creating a truncation and identifying it as such, is the part that's actually wrong if you are a prescriptive grammarian, though if you are a descriptive grammarian you will disagree because it tends to be the norm.

    I see that you are from New York, so I will cite a Yank dictionary:

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    ETA: I just realized that all I did was give you some data that you may well have run across already and didn't answer your question. I agree with the American Heritage and feel that 'till (with apostrophe) is non-standard. I would never use it. I would also never use 'til. Till, with two L's and no apostrophe is what I always employ if I employ that word at all. It has a clean and known etymology and needs no accessories or marks referencing other words.
     
  6. John Carlo
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    John Carlo Active Member

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    Thanks Wreybies! I guess I have to suck it up and stop using 'til, regardless of how correct it seems to me.
     
  7. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi John,

    I'm not meaning that 'til and till are "two different words spelt exactly the same", but that (cash) till and till (until) are spelt the same.

    I've also had a look at some online dictionaries...according to one, until has been in use since about 1200, so Wreybies suggesting it's a newcomer is a bit of a red herring...after all, on that basis, most American spellings of English words are much newer! Another one suggested that till is less formal than until.

    My feeling is that there is sufficient disagreement in the World of Grammar for you to make up your own mind which feels more comfortable to you...and that may change depending upon the context.
     
  8. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    'Until' in narrative, and if you need the contraction in dialogue, I'd use 'til.
     

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