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What do you think about punctuation?

-- (shaikha@bu.edu), October 01, 1999


I think punctuation is an underused and underappreciated art form. It can be used in so many ways...to convey dramatic pause, for example. It can make things funnier or more interesting (as punctuation marks do) than they already are. It allows for interjection into what is basically a static and premeditated form of communication, namely, the written word.

-- katie mccaffery (katiemac3@hotmail.com), October 04, 1999.

I completely understand where this essay is coming from. As I write email (or more infrequently, letters), I find that every other sentence I write ends in an exclamation point (sometimes more often than that! --> see?! oh - i did it again! oh no! ...) simply to express the fact that my voice would rise at the end of the sentence. When I go back and read over my note, I realize just how silly it looks to have exclamation points sprinkled so liberally (perhaps "littered" is an even better word) throughout. The other main punctuation problem I have (as is aptly demonstrated here!) is the number of parenthetical phrases I use, represented either by parentheses or by hyphens. The exclamation point problem I'm working on - the parentheses/hyphen problem I'm resigned to.

Communication would indeed be richer with the invention of a set of special punctuation marks created to reproduce vocal intonation in a written form. Certainly, our newest and arguably most popular form of communication, email - itself a mixture of the one-sided-ness of written communication and the immediacy of telephone communication - would benefit immeasurably from such an invention. The alphabet was created to reproduce vocal sounds on paper - why not expand our punctuational ability to include intonation and emphasis?

-- Wendy Ruhm (wruhm@compuserve.com), October 19, 1999.

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