exclamation smirks

3 Jun

image courtesy of writers-edge.info

I’m a bit of a grammar nazi.  I don’t like it, it’s  a prescriptive and anal way of thinking.  I’d like to think my university days studying english language had paid off,  that I could see language as just a tool to fit a purpose,   a product constructed through its cultural usage.  Evolving, morphing, adapting.

But the truth is, I can’t.  I can still  hear both my parent’s voices in my head scolding me when I misuse an apostrophe, choose incorrectly from “more” and “less” when  expressing quantity, failing to follow Tony with I when proceeded by anything verblike.  It kind of ires me because I like the idea of the evolution of language, that the use of words or phrases should never be wholly dictated by rules and convention, but be fluid and playful. Christ, I’m a writer after all.

And my distaste is not just limited to grammatical mistakes. I can get disproportionately offended by punctuation too.  Take exclamation marks for example.   I just don’t like them. To me, at best, they should only ever be used to denote humour, and even then it feels as if I’m being told to find something funny before I’ve even made up my own mind.  A bit forced, cocky even.  I suppose they might clarify a statement’s mood – “I’m saying this as a joke, not an insult” – but then what is a smilie for? Surely they’re a lot more cute, less “in your face”.

Technically I think exclamation marks can also be used when conveying shock or suprise, the impact of something. But it always feels inappropriate to me, offensive even.  To me they are laughing marks, used with something serious it just feels like you’re belittling its gravitas, worse, taking it as one big (bad) joke.

“I’m so sorry you’ve broken your leg, it must be really frustrating!” or

“That’s dreadful, I can’t believe that someone nicked your car the day you lost your job!” or more recently for me

“I’m so sorry you’re mum died, you must be a real mess!”.

And what is it with some bloggers or commenters that seem pathologically incapable of writing without punctuating every single sentence with one?  Sometimes I wonder if it’s a kind of defense mechanism – they’re worried other people might think their writing or attitude stinks, so it’s a way of poking fun at themselves before anyone else does. Kind of like the extrovert chubby lady.

God it really is all a bit anal isn’t it? And this is all coming from someone who started her blogging journey refusing to capitalise i at the start of the sentence, thinking it was a bit quirky or something.  Bless.   Well my nazi self quickly put paid to that one thank god.

10 Responses to “exclamation smirks”

  1. emmakcontact@yahoo.com June 3, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    I hear you! I can pretty pissed off at grammatical mistakes too but sometimes those mistakes can be funny like on that site autocorrect fail. Check it out it’ll make you less anal: http://damnyouautocorrect.com/1030/auto-correct-fail/

  2. Vegemitevix June 3, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    Hey I can’t ‘like’ this post because I have to sign into WordPress or summat. Cue cutesy abbreviation just to let you know that I’m down with the lingo)

    In my opinion there’s a couple of levels – 1)basic grammatical errors – it’s in the possessive etc, which are embarrassing, 2)type’s where the writer just simply typed too fast to spell typos properly. In my opinion forgiveable 3)jargon – ‘learnings’ FFS not acceptable. Frankenspeak that is an abomination! I can feel another jargon that pisses me off post coming on…

  3. Julia Skinner June 3, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    I’m terrible with exclamation marks. In my defence, I think I see all this blogging / twitter stuff as a conversation & use them to show interrogation in my voice. However, I have taken on board what you’ve said & will do better in the future. (I SO wanted to put one in there!)

  4. wanderlust June 3, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    Bad grammer and punctuation bother me in signs or menus or professional-type publications, but w/ social media I don’t care so much. I don’t like blog posts with typos and lots of errors, it show’s someone doesn’t care. But comments – meh. It’s the message that counts, and that someone took the time to read what I had to say and thought to leave a comment.

  5. kelloggsville June 3, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    I have a friend that will grammatically correct my text messages. I fill them with smilies and !s just to annoy her :0) !!! My comments are always full of misstaks because I’m thinking about what message I want to give not how I type it. It must drive you nuts, sorry. I promise to make more of an effort for you. (Note the lack of exclamation mark at the end of that sentence, I sooooo wanted to put one there.)

  6. vicki ramsay June 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    I know where you’re coming from. I just left a ridiculously long # tag in twitter as I just couldn’t stand to contract bit leave out the apostrophe 😉

  7. TheMadHouse June 6, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    Sometimes I think you must be reading my mind. It is so prolofic, espeically on twitter, don’t waste a character on it I say.

  8. Barbara June 6, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    I use them far too often. For me they’re a hard habit to break. Not putting one at the end of that last sentence is going to bother me so I’m going to post and run before I do something I regret

  9. Miss Jacq June 10, 2011 at 12:19 am #

    Hello lovely, all I will say to that one is “whoops”. I consider myself told off as I do tend to commit the exlamation mark crime in my tweets regularly. I will make more of an effort in the future.I promise. It has become a habit as I nearly put one in then.

  10. kat June 21, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    I’m a prolific exclamtion mark user. Imagine my eyebrows and pitch are going up when I add one. Won’t change, don’t care that much.

I'm all about the debate. Would love to hear what you think.

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