A few months ago, I wrote a quick review of a book called Heft on Wheels. Overall, I liked it, but the writer, Mike Magnuson, used “till” instead of “until,” and it drove me nuts. So in my understated fashion, I typed:
One last peeve: Magnuson's a tenured English professor, and yet throughout the book, he uses till when he means 'til, as in, an abbreviation for the word until. Believe you me, there's a difference. You can say that while "till" is technically incorrect, it has become part of the common vernacular and is now considered acceptable usage... but I'll still say you're a fucking idiot.
Apparently Magnuson was Googling himself this weekend, because he commented:
Actually, it's the other way around. The word 'till,' which you can find in any dictionary and also in neat books like The King James Bible, has been in English since English was Old English. The abbreviated form of 'until,' which you say is technically correct, is in fact merely just a lame abbreviation and not a word at all, and that has become acceptable usage. Trust the professor on this one.
Me, when I hear or read “till” I immediately think “the soil,” but I looked the word up in the American Heritage Desk Dictionary for completeness’s sake. Naturally, “to prepare (land) for the raising of crops” was definition one, but the second definition pointed out that, yes, till is interchangeable with until.
Well, fuck. I could swear somewhere in the distant past – high school, maybe even elementary school -- I was taught that when writing, you should use “until” if you mean “until” and save the contractions for casual speech. That’s why I was so emphatic about it. Regardless, I was mistook. And my casual use of the phrase "fucking idiot" compounded the error, making me not only incorrect, but obnoxious as well (or even more so than usual, tee hee).
So I sincerely apologize to Magnuson.