Till, Until or ‘til

Some writerly updates first:

I have one poem squared away for the Bruce Dawe prize.  Yes I am probably aiming a bit high but fortune favours the brave and its only $6 to enter. 

I now have to get my arse ( or ass if you are American) into gear if I want to submit some work into the Inkerman & Blunt Australian Love Poems 2013 which is due by the 25th of this month.

I’d love to publish the poems, to share them with readers, but of course that would count as “publishing” which would rule them out of eligibility for the competition.  So there goes my blog content at least until after the competition is decided.

Is it Until, Till or ‘til?

It was in the process of writing the poem that I came across a curious artifact of the English language. I had written one line of the poem as

I played this game till it came true;

I wrote it first as you see it above, but then before sending it off to my crit group changed it to ‘till.  It was one of those moments when you think to yourself - that’s a contraction, it needs an apostrophe.  Never mind the fact that if I was shortening until it should look  like ‘til and not ‘till.

A very astute crit group member pointed out that it should be till or until (but till fits the metre) and that till isn’t a contraction of until.  Indeed till comes first chronologically, originating in Old English, whereas Until comes later in middle English.  Both can be used, although until is a little more formal.  Most of the time they can be interchanged, it can depend a little on the context.

You should never use ‘til though, it’s marked with a big red cross in my copy of The Right Word at the Right Time.

Until next I babble goodbye.


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