Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, September 08, 2021

Are you one of those people who compulsively pepper their emails/IM/texts with exclamation points? Along the lines of: “c u @ 8! cant wait!!”

What your recipients aren’t telling you: It’s annoying as hell. Pardon me — as hell! Particularly among those of us who are economical with our punctuation.

But I guess the online yellers are winning out. They’ve achieved validation with the publication of David Shipley and Will Schwalbe’s “Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home”. Messrs. Shipley/Schwalbe advocate all that exclamation marking as a tonic for the inherent limitations of online written communication:

Indeed the “wonderful” is what the exclamation point was originally devised to connote. A relatively recent addition to the punctuation clan, it first appeared in print around 1400 and was known until 1700 as a “mark of admiration,” though admiration in this case meant something like “wonderment” (of a religious variety). Some scholars believe it derives from the Latin Io (meaning joy). Io, the theory goes, might have been rendered with its second letter under the first, thus producing an exclamation mark.

As Shipley and Schwalbe would have it, the advent of electronic communication creates a greater need for pre-modern wonderment. In their view, the exclamation is no mere crutch for the lazy writer but an essential tonic against the grayness of electronic communication: “Because email is without affect, it has a dulling quality that almost necessitates kicking everything up a notch just to bring it to where it would normally be.”

So the mark of emphasis is necessary now, just to bring electronic dialogue back to zero, conversationally? I’m not convinced.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/08/2021 07:46:22 PM
Category: Creative, Internet, Wordsmithing
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