Punctuate This!?

Its time to have our First Annual Punctuation lesson. Please, don't misunderstand me (Johnny Cougar said that once, didn't he?). I don't mean to come off as a punctuation expert. I'm not, by any means. I felt it prudent, however, to share an obscure punctuation mark and vent about a pet peeve. Annnnnnd begin.

The interrobang is my new favorite punctuation mark. A little detective work on the name will surely reveal its nature. "Interro" like "interrogation," or a question. "Bang" like "bang," like an exclamation point. Its a question mark (QM) superimposed on the exclamation point (XP) to end a sentence that functions as both a question and an exclamation.

I urge you to begin using this mark in all your various forms of writing. You can do it from Microsoft Word with WingDings 2. Unfortunately, for you cheapo's, you cannot do it with WordPad. I would demonstrate but I'm a cheapo.

"Joshua hasn't completed Jeffrey L. Allen yet?!" is a good example of usage. Notice that we're asking if he hasn't completed the album, yet at the same time we're amazed that he hasn't completed the album. To write both the QM and the XP is really overkill and looks clumsy. Then there's the added question of which goes first, the QM or the XP? That question then leads into my second point, the pet peeve.

In two words: over punctuation. It is tough to track down when or where this trend started. How alarming is it to see sentences like this:

"what's your name?????? im jimmy!! wanna party!?!?#?!"

How elegant? Without any real proof, the blame for this horrid punctualizing can almost certainly be laid upon the Internet and the on-demand world. You have too much punctuation over there, not enough over here, weird stuff going on later on. Its a mess.

Two rules that have to be laid down.

  1. After each sentence type only one punctuation mark. You can either use a period, an exclamation point, a question mark, or, of course, an interrobang. Only one! Feel free to use semi-colons where necessary; I find them quite useful.
  2. If you absolutely must use more than one form of punctuation (and you will need written approval from me in all cases where you deem this necessary; submit all requests to my secretary), then it must be of the same variety and must occur exactly three times. Three times signifies emphasis, which I have to assume is the reason you need to use this exception. Some examples (taken from The Eulogy of Nothing; or, Floating Thirteen and a Half Feet Below the Crashing Waves of Newport Beach and Letting Go, though in that story they did not appear in the emphatical manner in which I now quote them):

    "Jack!!! Jack, talk to me."

    "I'm sorry," Jack finally said. "My mind must have been a bit preoccupied."

    "What were you thinking about???"

    "I was just letting go."

    And with those words Anne removed her hand from Jack's shoulder and slowly backed out of the room, eyes transfixed on him. So intense was her focus that she nearly tripped on herself as she reversed her path. She was just waiting for the lightning to stop.
  3. Did I say two rules? Here's a third. When shifting thoughts mid-sentence or pausing for any reason you must standardize on the number of dots you will use and how you will arrange them. You've got the . . . space dot space dot space dot space routine. The always classic...no space action. Or any variation in between. While I accept the fact that people will do what suits them when it comes to this topic I highly recommend the ... space dot-dot-dot space method. Its easy, it looks good, and it doesn't cause any formatting issues.
Those are my rules. Abide by them at all times. Begin interrobanging ... now!!!


Joshua Provost said...

Punctuation is hardly a topic fit for 12:37 Ante-Meridian Eastern Daylight Time.

Gabe said...