dot dot dot

exclamation_point1.jpgThere are times when the world conspires to make me ponder a topic for a list. This week the world apparently wants me to reflect on punctuation.

I’m quite fond of punctuation, really. Not so much the prescriptive uses of it. I like the informal uses of it that reflect the prosody of spoken language. You can break up a sentence or phrase with periods to show the strong emphasis of making each word its own intonational phrase. (What. The. Hell?) There’s the use of parentheses or commas for, you know, parenthenticals. (And I’m quite partial to parentheticals.) Or you can use ellipses to signal that you’re trailling off…

So I offer you a ThThTh list with an abundance of punctuation marks.

First, I offer to you the Evidence of Punctuation Conspiracy:

Further punctuation-related things include:

  • The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks. This blog is a “great” place to see of all sorts of abuses of quotation marks.
  • Apostrophe Abuse. Its the cats pajama’s in terms of misused apostrophe’s.
  • The Ominous Comma. A blog. While not actually about punctuation, it gets points for having such a cool punctuation-related name.
  • Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss. A book on punctuation that is said to be entertaining. (Yes, I should have read it. I have it. But haven’t read it. It will probably tell me to stop with the sentence fragments. Or some such. Screw that.)
    • There’s a punctuation “game” based on the book. (I use “scare quotes” here to suggest that there is not a lot of “fun” or “playing” involved.)
    • More fun is the panda joke that is the inspiration for the book title (offered up by Geoffrey Pullum of The Language Log) .
  • I love you period,” a song by Dan Baird

    I love you period
    Do you love me question mark
    Please, please exclamation point
    I want to hold you in parentheses

  • Let’s not forget the colons and semi-colons of the island nation of San Serriffe:

    The native people of San Serriffe are the Flong. However, the dominant group are of European stock, the descendants of colonists, known as colons. There is also a large mixed-race group, known as semi-colons.

  • Finally, I offer a bit of cartoon swearing. As in using punctuation marks in place of swear words, usually in a cartoon. (This allows me to end the post with a bang. Or 2.)(Sorry, a little punctuation mark humor.)(No, I’m not sorry. I’m dorky like that.)


11 thoughts on “dot dot dot

  1. hehehe! that was actually one of the top emailed articles on nytimes for a little bit… while i do peruse nytimes too many times a day for my own good, i doubt i would have come across that one without some help from the rest of the nytimes obsessed crowd. if you couldn’t tell, i’m a little over fond of the ellipsis myself. probably because of our punctuation mark project in seventh grade when that was my assigned demarcation.

    i would have also added strunk&white’s elements of style to this list, especially maira kalman’s illustrated version. it is the source of all answers to all questions punctuation related.

  2. “A book on punctuation that is said to be entertaining.”

    I think “said to be” about sums it up. I started it but found it rather tedious so it remains unfinished on my bookshelf.

  3. I would love to say I’m great with grammer, you know since I was an English major in college. But sadly, my grammer isn’t where I wish it would be.

    I guess this means, learning is always on going, I’ll have to look into those books, see if I can keep up learning.

  4. You are terrific.

    I haven’t seen the semi-colon in question in the NYC subways, but I always read the “what to do in an emergency” signage. And in it, for some inexplicable stylistic reason, they use internal punctuation but no periods at the ends the sentences. It makes me insane.

  5. I love this! Love it. I have read ES&L, and what made me insane is the LT does commas Brit-style, you know: thing, thing and thing, whereas I do them American style: thing, thing, and thing. I can’t get past that.

  6. caset-
    Well, I would have missed it if it weren’t for you. So thanks!

    You’re so sweet. You’ll make me blush. And you’ve used such lovely punctuation.

    Funny, that. And here I love to be called sloppy. No, wait, I get pissed off at that. Only I can call myself sloppy. (Which I do on a regular basis.)

    Good to know. It’s not high on my list, and it will continue to ride low.

    rose daughter-
    I’m all for ongoing learning. That’s my excuse for staying in school for…um…a while.

    Thanks, and thanks for admitting to being one of the dreaded colons. I wouldn’t have guessed it of you.

    Aw, shucks. Thanks. As for the emergency signage, that would drive me batty, too. Has anyone taken a magic marker to them?

    Thanks for the affirmation. (There are times when I feel like these lists amuse only me.) I’m intrigued by the use of punctuation for smileys, but I haven’t really got into using emoticons myself. (I also like the word “emoticon.”)

    Thanks! Glad you liked it. And glad to find someone who’s read the book. Annoying that the book didn’t allow for both variations. That’s one of the ways that prescriptive grammarians drive me batty, too. The not allowing for variations.

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