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In defense of The Period.

May 3, 2014

 

“Use a period [ . ] at the end of a sentence that makes a statement. There is no space between the last letter and the period. Use one space between the period and the first letter of the next sentence.” – excerpt from The Period – Guide to Grammar and Writing.

I imagine that just about all of us, by now, have been busted by evoking a certain tone in instant messages, texting and on social networks. While I believe that it’s true that the ‘tone’ of what we say can be easily misinterpreted (as inferred by the receiver), especially in rapid-fire bursts of communication, I was surprised by a revelation from my friend Brooke Ballard in her post about the difference between ‘tone and ‘voice.’  The period is pissed. She and I had a short Twitter conversation about it:

Notice, no period.

Text, IM, and Twitter have made it both necessary and acceptable to eliminate punctuation. People have grown quite accustomed to it, apparently. I get that, so I don’t plan to turn this into a ‘use proper punctuation’ rant. I just want to say this: I was using the period before I could even write. At age five (or so), I’d scribble pages and pages of long lines of pretend cursive, ending a line once in a while with a period, not an exclamation. My Mom would encourage me, saying “Oh, what nice writing. Look, you even punctuated!”

Now, as our language changes with the times, punctuation is changing in its purpose, to indicating emotion. I’m going to miss you, period. And to my ‘Friends’, ‘Followers’, and ‘Connections’, please understand, when I use a period, I’ve just finished a thought. And I’m not pissed.

Image credit: Dynamic Typography http://classes.dma.ucla.edu/Spring07/155/projects/peng/

Related reading:

Links included in Brooke’s blog post:

New Republic “The Period Is Pissed When did our plainest punctuation mark become so aggressive?”

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115726/period-our-simplest-punctuation-mark-has-become-sign-anger

The American University Text Messaging and IM: Linguistic Comparison of American College Data

http://www.american.edu/cas/lfs/faculty-docs/upload/text-messaging-and-im.pdf

hen did our plainest punctuation mark become so aggressive?

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