March 9, 2009

Ms. Grammarian

I can no longer be silent. This is the first of what will be a book may be a series of rants posts on a subject on which almost no one is completely correct neutral: language usage and punctuation. Today’s post:

Punctuation, period.

Let us remove our hats and have a moment of silence for that workhorse of the sentence, the period. What has been a steadfast and dignified conclusion to the statement is being replaced by exclamation marks, ellipses, and—recently and mysteriously—blank spaces.

Sadly, the exclamation point has been long abused to create emphasis that language should import instead. Many do not seem to realize that a period imbues a necessary solemnity that can offer more emotional weight than an exclamation mark. For example, compare the following two statements:

I hate poor punctuation!

I hate poor punctuation.

Which of these is squealed by a twelve-year-old girl, and which is expressed calmly by an adult? The exclamation point loses strength with each use. It is used most appropriately and almost exclusively in direct quotations. Try not to use it elsewhere, unless breathless excitement or anger is indicated. And, for the record, only one exclamation point can be used at a time!!!

The ellipsis (...) was created to indicate missing words, used to shorten a quote to its most meaningful phrasing while staying true to the author’s actual words. Somehow it has come to indicate a pause that isn’t quite the conclusion that a period provides...thus depriving us of a chance to take a literary breath...never quite coming to that satisfying finish so necessary for jumping to a new topic...

Lastly—for now—I come to that curious new interloper, the blank space Is this the function of an overworked “period” key But what about those other punctuation marks also left blank Are you going nuts yet as I would reading this And how are they ignoring all those green squiggly lines in their docs  I’m sorry but this must stop With a period.

Grammatically yours,

P.S. How many of you are carefully proofing your comments before you hit "publish?"


the hobbit said...

Lovely penmanship, Mum.

Ur-spo said...

I agree with you.
Fast typing and poor grammar practice are partially to blame; I too must watch my punctuation.

Sooo-this-is-me said...

I disagree!!! ;)

Just kidding!!! You're not upset about this comment... are you???

I should have used the word your instead of you're, that really would have set you off.

tornwordo said...

Life's too short to obsess over such things, though I would definitely stop reading a paragraph sans periods.

Greg said...

Ah, but Torn, how would you know WHERE to stop reading?

I confess!! I overuse the enthusiastic exclamation point...and often abuse the ellipseseses...

My apologies. And yes, indeed, truly beautiful penpersonship.


Tater said...

I will have to pay more attention when I post. I am sure I have been guilty of irking you a few times. :)

bigislandjeepguy said...

i had someone make a comment on my blog about the fact that i rarely use caps, and that in turn, no one would take anything i said seriously. and i am probably one of the prime abusers of the ellipsis.

but i do not confuse "your" and "you're" and i do Not capitalize Letters in sentences That do not Need to be.

i guess we all have our hot buttons :)

Roxrocks said...

Your brain must bleed when you read my posts.

When I use the exclamation points, I'm really wanting to use CAPS and BOLD but I am lazy with html. :)

THIS IS ME....ONLINE said...

Yes, ma'am. (Did I do that right?) :)

David said...

I always try and proof my comments. Sometimes I even go off and spell-check a word in another program to make sure I spelled it properly. Not that I always catch everything.

Java said...

I'm laughing.
I can be pretty picky about grammar, but I also can be lazy with it. Those ellipses are lots of fun, and so useful for the way I speak. So often I lose track of what I'm saying and .... Therefore, I use ellipses to indicate that I'm in la-la land somewhere.