I LIKE to think I question everything. In reality though that’s not true. I’ve never questioned English language conventions, like punctuation, grammar, even capitalization. That’s certainly one thing I — and most likely most of you reading this — have taken for granted. It just is.
Recently, 61-year-old University of British Columbia (UBC) architecture student Patrick Stewart from the Nisga’a First Nation did put these conventions into question. As a PhD candidate he defended his 52,438-word (149 pages) dissertation that had almost no periods, no commas or capitalization, and no conventional formatting. His first draft wasn’t even in English — it was in his native Nisga’a language. He did acquiesce and translate it so it would at least be accepted for review. Stewart said that he “wanted to make a point” about aboriginal culture, colonialism, and “the blind acceptance of English language conventions in academia.”