There is a thing I like to call Whilst Disease, which is the really irritating urge to use “whilst” whilst writing things, or whilst talking to people.
It took me until basically within the past year to realize that “whilst” was a british thing, and not just ridiculously old-fashioned. Since I thought it was just old-fashioned, and I was a pretentious little teenager, I liked using it in speech and in writing because I thought having two words for “while” at my disposal was pretty cool. Then someone told me it was british, and then I had to go scrub it from my vocabulary because at that moment it flipped from harmless eccentricity (in my mind) to an intolerable bit of pretension. In retrospect I needn’t have worried, since that was a drop of water in the bucket. However, within the past year I’ve had to go to the websites of a very large number of various british institutions, and then I understood that it really was very very british.
And people were just using it like it was a perfectly respectable, ordinary word (british people do that a lot with weird words). Never mind that I’ve heard “whilst” all the time from certain specific people, or read it often enough, but for some reason, when one is on random websites, or on a student forum or something, and people just use “whilst” like it’s not a completely weird word, or people who suck at writing use “whilst”, then things get odd. If it’s on the internet, then I suddenly have to acknowledge that it is a perfectly legitimate word, despite that as a confessed former occasional whilst-user, I am fully aware that it is a real word.
My problem is that I see “whilst” a lot, and so I’ve started thinking with “whilst”, because my brain is a traitorous and pretentious sponge, and I feel strange shame whenever I almost have a whilst moment. I actually have this shame whenever I feel as though I am getting into things too much. Yes, I know that I’m going on exchange to the UK on purpose (hopefully), but I really don’t want to turn into one of those aggravating people who goes away for a year and then likes to try and convince people they’ve turned british.
Maybe I should just go with it so as to avoid spending extra brainpower thinking about Whilst Disease. It’s not that I think it’s better in some way, because I don’t, I just absorb things, that is the way my brain works. This will likely be a repeated theme. I used the word “whilst” in my personal statement, and I feel kind of funny about it, because I don’t know if they’ll go “wow, this Canadian sure was trying too hard, lol”, or they won’t notice really, because they think “whilst” is a perfectly normal word.
Yes, I’m aware that normal people don’t spend 500 words talking about “whilst”. I take linguistic self-consciousness to abnormal depths.