Happy National Punctuation Day


To celebrate, here’s a link to punctuation à la Victor Borge. It’s still funny after all these years. This version offers bonus jokes.

This article in Time has mostly bad news.

  • Emoji maraud where question marks and periods used to roam. I hate it that when I type a colon followed by a closed parenthesis, MS Word assumes I want a smiley face. I’d rather walk two miles in four inch heels than resort to a prefab face to express myself.
  • The repurposing of punctuation, especially the @ sign, poses less of a problem. Wish more people would use § and ^.
  • As for the apostrophe, “don’t” may work as “dont,” but omitting it from “cant,” produces a different word, even if the meaning is obvious.
  • The rise of exclamation points, like the use of emoji, indicates that people are too lazy to express themselves. Cut it out!
  • The loss of the hyphen makes sense. It’s a waste. My mother wrote “to-day” and “to-night” till the 1980s and sometimes even later. Word still demanded “four-inch” before heels in the walk two miles sentence above. So old school.
  • My own least favorite mark is the colon, which graces pretty much every book these days except for novels. The descending “punct” allows publishers to cheat by using one or  two words in huge typeface on the spine with the rest of the book written in the subtitle book on the front cover. Examples: (?!) Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail; Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local – and Helped Save an American Town. Talk about a stew of punctuation. Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health. OK, I’m ready for a desert of bread and cheese.

I suppose the single word followed by a colon, followed by a paragraph improves on such old school titles as The complete Civil War journal and selected letters of Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Emily Dickinson should be happy he was a better agent than writer. Also Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-1839. It made a splash when Fanny Kemble produced it, but I doubt the tome would make it past the first-read intern these days. Maybe we can compromise to come up with titles that define in a few words such as  Life on the Mississippi or Political Justice.

Anyway, happy .,;””( ) and even!

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