Love it or hate it, it’s virtually impossible to escape one of the most recent words to take the English speaking world by storm. The intensifier totally has been reduced to a one syllable word by GenY-ers across the world. The change occurred at the 2010 Annual Summit of the Not-Alive-During-The Eighties White Anglophonic Society, or NADTEWAS*, which was held in a Melbourne laneway bar that you are not cool enough to be familiar with. The word totally will never be the same again and there’s nothing you can do about it.

I must admit, the new version of the word does irk me a little bit (typical response of a GenX-er, I suppose) but I’m mostly okay with it. But there is one aspect to this new word that does really interest me: how to spell it.

Most people use the spelling totes. It’s pretty obvious, right. It takes the first three letters of the mother word and simply adds –es as we do with many other English words. It seems like a straightforward and sensible spelling choice.

Until we consider the alternative: toats. (Yes, this spelling exists. Look it up on Twitter to see that it’s being used every few minutes).

As soon as I saw the toats spelling, I was enamoured. You see, totes is already a word in English. They’re a kind of bag that girls wearing large sunglasses carry with them to the beach. Toats, on the other hand, is unique and interesting. It kind of looks like breakfast but it isn’t. But the best thing about that spelling is that it typographically divorces it from its original form. By spelling the word toats, it comes of age, stands on its own two feet and tells the world that it’s here to stay. Toats no longer needs pocket money from its parents. It’s got a job and a role in society – to annoy and confuse people over 50. Which is precisely what language change has been doing since time began.

So please allow me to indulge in being a prescriptive linguist for just a moment and urge you to embrace the spelling toats.

Or don’t. Watevs.

*Society may not actually exist

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