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In the text area, a familiar punctuation mark is taking on a new meaning

The digital age of instant communication has dramatically affected the English language by changing its grammar, spelling, and vocabulary.  Then again the English language has survived and thrived due in part to its shameless flexibility, which historically led it to liberally borrow from other language and accept unusual new creative linguistic constructs.

The New Republic is a news site that focuses primarily on espousing neoliberal political views, but it also offers a bit of interesting technology coverage at times.  Story editor Ben Crair has actually offered up a rather interesting piece on how the period has become a long desired piece of punctuation -- the "irony mark".

A 2007 study by The American University found that at the time students add sentence ending punctuation (i.e. '!', '?', and '.') 39 percent of the time in texts and 45 percent of the time in online chats.  The punctuation at the end of the last sentence of the text -- the so-called "transmission-ending punctuation" occurred especially infrequently.  It was found in only 29 percent for texts and 35 percent for IMs.
The angry period

Part of English language speakers' trend of shortening words -- noted by other peer-reviewed research -- and dropping punctuation in the digital age is out of necessity.  Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters, traditional SMS was limited to 160 characters.

But it is still somewhat odd to observe how in an age where punctuation is being mothballed by so many, that digital denizens are increasing the period ('.') to express sarcasm, frustration, and/or anger.

Mark Liberman, a professor of linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, tells Mr. Blair:

Not long ago, my 17-year-old son noted that many of my texts to him seemed excessively assertive or even harsh, because I routinely used a period at the end.

In the world of texting and IMing … the default is to end just by stopping, with no punctuation mark at all.  In that situation, choosing to add a period also adds meaning because the reader(s) need to figure out why you did it. And what they infer, plausibly enough, is something like ‘This is final, this is the end of the discussion or at least the end of what I have to contribute to it.’

But lest the humble dot feel demeaned, it still has many friendlier usages, such as it symbolic use in internet domain names and "..." which strangely has the reverse affect as a single '.' when ending the sentence -- inviting the conversation to continue.

Sources: The New Republic, The American Univ. [pdf; study]



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RE: Truth.
By MrBlastman on 12/4/2013 3:36:09 PM , Rating: 2
Amen to all that!

After writing profusely in the Science Fiction genre for the last few years, I've become quite the picky writer when it comes to grammar. Two decades ago--I wouldn't have at all. Nowadays though, I cringe when I see some kid or adult write poorly, making common errors that should be elementary knowledge not to do.


RE: Truth.
By inighthawki on 12/7/2013 3:57:54 PM , Rating: 2
For any non-formal piece of writing, I think there is a huge difference between writing so horribly that it's actually painful to read, and writing with a few mistakes. A lot of people aren't perfect and occasionally omit a period, comma, etc, but unless it's necessary to be absolutely perfect, it is far more annoying for grammar Nazis to come in and correct every little thing.

I have had cases where I made posts and used "its" instead of "it's" or vice versa (solely by accident) and people will make it a point in an online forum or even here in the DT comments to try and correct it. Is it really necessary to hijack the flow of the conversation to correct a simple mistake? People who are so high and mighty to believe that a mistake could not be accidental, but a sign of the user's stupidity, and a chance to prove their superiority? (Hint to grammar Nazis, this is why people typically hate you)
For this reason it is completely unnecessary to go through the trouble of correcting such a small mistake, and actually detracts from the conversation.

On the other hand, when I see posts where people use zero punctuation and grammar or just use it completely wrong, it obviously makes it difficult to read. In these cases, I feel the lack of grammar is seriously detrimental to the understanding of what the user is trying to say.


RE: Truth.
By Schrag4 on 12/9/2013 12:46:21 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
People who are so high and mighty to believe that a mistake could not be accidental, but a sign of the user's stupidity, and a chance to prove their superiority? (Hint to grammar Nazis, this is why people typically hate you)


I'm an introverted grammar Nazi. I really hate seeing improper use of lose/loose, its/it's, their/there/they're, and others but I almost always keep it to myself. By the way, if you're ever subjected to a grammar correction, you really shouldn't get offended. Either you made an honest mistake, or you're being given a free lesson on how to get people to respect your written opinion. I agree that nobody is perfect, and I make spelling and grammatical errors too, but if your writing is littered with errors that are obviously not typos (because you repeat them over and over) then others are going to tune you out.

Back to the subject at hand: IMO, texts and IMs are meant to be rather short, as in one sentence. I'll admit that I typically don't include a period unless I'm separating 2 or more sentences in a single sent message. If I'm breaking a single sentence into 2 sent message then I try to always end the first sent message with "..."

I'm sure a real grammar Nazi will come along tear this post a new one. That's OK, though, because I'm open to constructive criticism :-)


RE: Truth.
By tng on 12/18/2013 10:29:40 AM , Rating: 2
I am not a Grammar Nazi, but I do get somewhat annoyed by some of the comments I see on this and other sites. I see allot of comments that look like they are written by a 13 year old girl who is just leaning English. Who knows, maybe they are written by a 13 year old girl who is just leaning English.


RE: Truth.
By purerice on 12/7/2013 11:10:28 PM , Rating: 2
Do you mean to say you loose it when people get lose with grammar?

Spelling the opposite of "win" with a double o grates me to no end. I have two friends who became teachers and their written grammar is terrible. I offered to help correct their letters to parents for free because I was ashamed on their behalf.

Studies done of etymology and linguistics have shown that if a group of people splinters off a larger group, their language will likely be unrecognizable in as few as 500 years. Changes generally occur due to environmental differences. Sadly teenage metalanguage today is unrecognizable from 20 years ago not because of advances in society but because of declines. My college professors lamented that the reading I had to do was half of what they had to do, but the reading today is half of even that. All the while tuition is 8 times what I paid.
What exactly are they paying for?


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