The language curmudgeon . . .

I'm not gonna unless I gotta!

Conrad Weisert
© Information Disciplines, Inc., Chicago—2 November 2009

NOTE: This document may be circulated or quoted from freely, as long as the copyright credit is included.

Professional journals and textbooks are drastically increasing their use of certain non-words intended to indicate an informal verbal construction. They include:
  • gonnagoing to
  • wannawant to
  • gottamust; got to
  • wouldawould've
  • couldacould've
  • shouldashould've
The pronunciation of the final syllable, whether it stands for to or have, is the so-called "neutral vowel" in English or "schwa"in the international phonetic alphabet, sometimes rendered "uh" in older dictionaries.

One well-regarded textbook by a major methodology expert observed that:

"Sometimes a programmer's gotta do what a programmer's gotta do!"

So, what's wrong with using those words in a professional publication? Three things:

Are there any situations in which those words contribute a useful shade of meaning? Let me know.

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Last modified 3 November 2009