I know I’m as bad as the next relatively educated English speaker.

I know I have an unexplainable love of ellipses (…).  I know that sometimes I get a little CAP HAPPY.  And, often, when I’m writing, I begin sentences with conjunctions (which, is actually not as egregious a sin as it used to be.  Yea, many would say, “it beith a pure desire”), and put in way, way, way, too many, commas.

I try to say the right “they’re.”  We all know their just one of the many common errors of writing.

Or to make sure it’s “its.”  And not write incomplete sentences.


There is one thing I find absolutely and unforgivably terrifying: PUNCTUATION INFLATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Where are the days when we could distinguish emphasis by inflection or implication?  Where are the days when the horror of a moment could be encapsulated in something as simple as:

“Then she said my skirt was too short and my map looked ugly.  Can you believe it?”

Maybe you could get away with putting a(n) “!?” at the end, but at that point you were practically hysterical.  Nowadays we would probably see this same phrase written like this:

“THEN she said my skirt was TOO SHORT and my map looked UGLY!!!!!  CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!”

See.  I’m sure it all started with some person adding a simple “!!” at the end of something incredibly exciting (I just found the lost city of gold in my basement!!”).  But then, they experienced something more severe and realized that it needed a “!!!” (“I just got audited for the lost city of gold and now owe the IRS more money than there is in the world!!!”)  And then, another completely incredulous thing happened and a simple “!?” wouldn’t do.  Just one exclamation point?  Just one question mark?  No no, it must be “!?!?”  (“30 Rock was a rerun last night!?!?”).

On and on, until the poor exclamation point lost all value and went the way of the Somali shilling (dollar?), not to mention italics, bold, CAPS, and the question mark.

I would guess that by 2015 more than half of our GDWP (Gross Domestic Writing Product) will consist of superfluous punctuation.  Our keyboards will have “bold” and “italics” keys the size of space bars and superfluous letters like y and q will have to be accessed using Shift-Number,  Shift-FKey, or, dare I say it, Alt-“Some Random Number Code.” I mean, why have “qu” when you could just use the more popular “kw”?  “Quick”?  How unsavory when put beside the ever-convenient “Kwik.”  It’s one letter shorter and two clicks of the same key!  Now you have that much more time to add a few ?!?!?!?!’s at the end of the sentence for good measure.

{Side: You know, it’s sort of like how canyon used to be “cañon.”  I guess “ñ” went the way of “qu,” but I sure do miss the English tilde.  It just made the language that much more romantic.  (hah, more Romantic. hah hah.)}

Oh, and in the future we’ll also simplify our vocabulary to Standard Texting Format (STF), conveniently auto-filled by your word processors for ease.

A glimpse into the future:

Ralph Waldo Emerson: 1840

“Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force; that thoughts rule the world.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson: 2025

“Gr8 men r thea hu c that “””SPIRICHL IZ STRONGR!!!!!””” thn ne matiriul fors!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  ||||||||||||:::::::::>>>>~~~~~~THAUTS RUL THE WRLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!~~~~<<<<:::::::::::||||||||||”



Filed under The Oddness Within

8 responses to “WHATS UP WITH THE PUNCTUATION!!!!!?!!!!!!

  1. peregrine

    See, this? This is why I like you. I read Dooce every now and again, and the rhetorical tic of using caps to express a particular tone of voice and sentiment, due to overuse on her part, is really starting to wear. And she’s definitely at the high end of the grammar/punctuation sliding scale. Sigh. It makes me want to be old and sitting on a porch so I can be crotchety and yell at the kids on the street.

    Pinto: Idea. We start up a blog together called “crotchety ladies yelling at kids on the street” and then we become blog comment vigilantes, “yelling at kids” on the net, and signing our comments “crotchety ladies yelling at kids on the street.” ISNT THAT THE MOST HILARIOUS IDEA YOUVE EVER HEARD!!!!!?????!?!?!?

  2. Gary

    Have you ever read any of Emerson’s journals? He was a genius even at a young age, its crazy!!

    Pinto: Have I read any of Emerson’s journals, he asks. Have I read the journals. I would not be fit to be an obsessed fan if I had not! I mightily recommend the edited “Emerson in his Journals,” too.

  3. Megan

    I…I have a headache.

    Pinto: WHHHYYYYYYYY?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!

  4. You are SUCH a prescriptivist!!!! Personally, I like the periods after each word for inflection emphasis. And I. mean. love. them.

    And maybe this isn’t all bad…you could, like, get a job translating Emerson for the next generation???

    Pinto: I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT A PRESCRIPTIVIST IS!!!!!!!! Can. You. Belive. It.?!
    Also. I happen to like the period thing too…I’m still deciding if that is me being avant garde or grammatically whimpy? I DON’T KNOW!

  5. cuzzzzzin?!?!?!? izZz that eVeN u?!?!?? w8ird.

    pInTo: u nO iTz miiii!**!**!** lUV ya!

  6. Raven

    Here’s something you might have to look forward to as a teacher–a colleague of mine once had a student submit a formal research paper with a smiley face in it. How’s that for creative punctuation? Although, I must admit, I’m fighting the urge to end this comment with some emoticon action myself.

    Pinto: The best emoticon action is when it comes after a thinly veiled diss. “Personally, I think red hair is tacky. ;-)”

  7. OK- I’m am laughing my a** off (pardon my Wisconsin vernacular)

    You have to check out this blog, it is a spoof of all that you just said.


    Pinto: Ohhh I am quite acquainted with TAMN and JJWT’s righteous seed.

  8. Pingback: Book Week 2009 « Pinto’s Beans

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