Daily Archives: August 14, 2011

The Trials and Tribulations of Sentence Final Punctuation

I’ve taken to leaving the punctuation off the end of Facebook updates.

I don’t do this by accident. It’s deliberate. The reason:

No sentence final punctuation seems quite right for the informality required by my inane commentary on my mundane life.

When I employ my automatic standards of spelling and punctuation* to announce that I got crapped on by a bird, I COME ACROSS AS THE ENGLISH TEACHER** THAT I BRIEFLY WAS (but alas, I cannot shake the reputation). My mother only taught school for TWO years, way back in her early twenties, and my father still accuses her of being ‘a teacher’, usually when she is right.

*I was a pedant long before I was even considering becoming a teacher. In year ten I handed my English teacher a copy of my style guide, which I had purchased with my own babysitting money, since he obviously DID NOT HAVE ONE HIMSELF, evidenced by the fact he had marked me down for an incorrect use of the apostrophe which was, in fact, his own error. This year I caught up with him on someone else’s Facebook thread about what a little tie-wearing tacker I was, and for some reason he had not forgotten me. We’re good.

**Most high school English teachers my age are not spelling and grammar pedants at all, as we all came through the education system in the 80s and 9os. Draw your own conclusions.

What to drop?

THE FULL-STOP

Lots of status updates aren’t full sentences anyway. The full-stop can feel too final, as if that conversation is over. I don’t want to be the one every time who’s putting a stop to threads. You know there’s something wrong with you when you find your name at the end of every status update thread. Same applies to forums. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I try not to be the last poster on every conversation. It’s the internet equivalent of saying something inappropriate at a dinner party. Everyone stares into their drinks then shuffles away.

THE EXCLAMATION MARK

I’m not a super enthusiastic person in real life, so the exclamation mark doesn’t seem to go with my personality, except when used ironically.

Apparently women make far more use of the exclamation mark than men, as it most often conveys friendliness in informal written communication. I use it if I want to come across as friendly, but it doesn’t come naturally.

Ahem. The punctuation, that is.

Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke.

- F. SCOTT FITZGERALD

THE ?!

Questions are easier for me than exclamation marks, because the question mark is neutral: If it’s a question, bang on a question mark.

Yet yet yet, I can’t quite bring myself to use the ?!, even in simple status updates, because I don’t want to sound like a 14-year-old on a sugar high.

This is the Interobang, at John Green’s Tumblr blog.

THE DOT DOT DOT

Some of my friends are in the habit of ending everything in three dots. I am starting to fall into this habit. But it’s an annoying tic once you notice it. Perhaps this is due to the assumption that there’s more — much more — behind your words. (There isn’t. Really.)

LOL

I hate LOL. I just hate it. But other people get around the sentence final punctuation by substituting LOL where full-stops should be. They do this when their comment is not even snigger-worthy, let alone laugh-out-loudable.

I vow never to be the kind of person who says “That’s funny” instead of laughing.

- @studiesincrap

sweet NOTHING

so i have taken to typing status updates like this

trust me the transition was heaps easier when i started typing on an ipad

cos typing on a touchscreen is a huge pain in the ass

punctuation especially so

i blame apple

 

Related: 

10 Obscure Punctuation Marks That Should Really Get More Play from Flavorwire