The Pluperfect or Strunkenwhite Virus


In 1999,  Bob Hirschfeld featured a satire on his blog, Bob’s Fridge, about an imaginary computer virus, Strunkenwhite.  The virus, also called The Pluperfect Virus, prevented an infected computer from sending grammatically incorrect eMail. The Washington Post published it in their Outlook section.  Others also published his satire and people began forwarding his post as if it were a virus alert.  Some thought the Strunkenwhite Virus was a hoax, but many also believed it.

I first learned about it recently while reading the humorous bestseller about punctuation, Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss.

Here’s an excerpt, but I recommend the whole post:

“If Strunkenwhite makes e-mailing impossible, it could mean the end to a communication revolution once hailed as a significant timesaver. A study of 1,254 office workers in Leonia, N.J., found that e-mail increased employees’ productivity by 1.8 hours a day because they took less time to formulate their thoughts. (The same study also found that they lost 2.2 hours of productivity because they were e-mailing so many jokes to their spouses, parents and stockbrokers.)”

Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style” is a good book to have on your shelf for writing prayer letters, blog posts and for whenever you need to refresh your English skills.  Where do you go for answers to your grammar questions?

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