Oddly Enough Blog

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You need a semicolonoscopy, Blog Guy!

December 3, 2010

Blog Guy, I represent some readers who want to talk to you about your punctuation.

My punctuation? But I’ve been on time nearly every day this week!

BRITAIN POLITICSThat would be punctuality. We’re more concerned about how you end sentences. You use way too many exclamation marks.

I know! I don’t like using those! Research shows they make headlines seem important! Search engines go for them, too!

But if you use them too often they lose their impact, Blog Guy. Another thing. You also seem way too fond of the ellipsis…

Well, I do live in Washington DC. The Ellipsis is what we call the area between the White House and the National Mall…

PHILIPPINES ESTRADAThat’s the Ellipse, you total moron. An ellipsis is three dots, used instead of…

Oh right, instead of completing a…

Exactly, if you don’t want to finish…

Okay, so how should I end my  sentences?

Check it out, Blog Guy, maybe it’s time for a period.

Hey! We don’t talk about private women’s stuff like that in this blog! This is a…

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Left: Britain’s Prime Minister’s wife Cherie Blair is surrounded by question marks on a stand as she walks around the exhibition stands at the annual Labour Party conference in Manchester, England,  September 24, 2006. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Right: Filipino Roman Catholic nuns display a poster of a white exclamation point, the symbol used by a multi-sectoral group that launched a silent protest against the government of President Joseph Estrada in Manila, April 3 2000. REUTERS

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Comments

Holy exclamation point Blog Guy! Those nuns are silently exclaming themselves exclamatically! It can only be the work of none other than the vile Punctuation Woman! Look as she stares questionably at us with floating question marks confirming her questionability! Quick Blog Guy, to the Blog Cave! Let’s defeat these evil wenches from their diabolical plan to…

Oh look, a doughnut!

Posted by iflydaplanes | Report as abusive
 

All, if you don’t want to learn something, don’t click on the attached link, which leads to an old joke. Click at your own risk.

http://grammar.about.com/od/punctuationa ndmechanics/a/punctmatters07.htm

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive
 

@Doc, I took the risk and clicked! Don’t get what the “Dear John” thing was about though. To me it just seem as if the letter was re-written. I didn’t see any misuse of commas in the first one. Maybe that’s because…

Posted by iflydaplanes | Report as abusive
 

Spin – seriously, no nun puns? Not even a nun haiku?
Be warned, this could be habit forming.

Posted by Nosmo_King | Report as abusive
 

Ifly, John is a punctuation goof who needs to pull the dill pickle out of his :

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive
 

There are people who don’t love an ellipsis…?

Posted by CrowGirl | Report as abusive
 

haiku alert!
beware the ruler
the nuns are a watching you
for bad punctuation

Posted by wheelz | Report as abusive
 

I LOVE punctuation almost as much as I love Lamar. Doc, I’d come across the Dear John letter before and had used it as a teaching tool. My students scoffed at me (yes, scoffed!)saying such rules were useless in the texting world. I smacked my ruler on my hand, rhythmically, repeatedly, and in an outraged cloud of chalk dust, sentenced them all to a class detention. No miscreant was allowed to leave until each had promised (on the honor system) to use at least one semi-colon, once a day. It took pretty much til dinner time for them to see the error of their unpuntuated ways, but in the end, I–and reason–prevailed.

Posted by ladylala | Report as abusive
 

Lady, stop teaching those engineers, architects, contractors, teachers, education administrators, police officers, business professionals, real estate professionals, employers, physicians, healthcare professionals, social workers, and politicians how to write. Thank you in advance from the lawyers of the future!

Postscript: How would you punctuate this sentence: “There were black and yellow black and blue and red white and blue motorcycles”?

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive
 

Okay, Doc, I’ll bite.
“There were black and yellow; black and blue; and red, white, and blue motorcycles.”

Posted by ladylala | Report as abusive
 

It’ll be interesting to see what Doc says. I’m not sure you need a comma after white, at least not for American English.

Posted by rcbasler | Report as abusive
 

I would probably punctuate it the way Lady has, but if I were writing for publication, it would depend upon the publisher’s house style. American usage these days tends toward not putting the comma after “white.” But the last journal that published an article for me, a “law review,” would have required the comma after “white” pursuant to its house style. I suspect Spin is the true expert here on punctuation, so I’m interested to hear what she has to say.

I once had a student in a summer composition I class. He used NO commas. None. Nada. Zilch.

I inserted commas where convention dictated they had to be and for clarity. After I returned his paper to him, he came up to me after class, held the paper in front of me, and asked me the following very telling question: “Do these little marks have some kind of meaning?” No kidding.

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive
 

Is there someplace we can go visit the grave, Doc?

Posted by rcbasler | Report as abusive
 

OOOOOHH, Doc, wait til Shra takes a gander at your lesson! You’re a stronger man than I am.

Posted by ladylala | Report as abusive
 

I’m like Crowy, Lady. I have electric fences. I’m immune.

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive
 

How about I let your students loose on you with unpuctuated assignments, Doc?
Tell your secretary to send unpunctuated letters and documents to your peers and clients??

Posted by Shra | Report as abusive
 

“I am grateful to my roommates, Moses and D.B. Cooper.”

“I am grateful to my roommates, Moses, and D.B. Cooper.”

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive
 

See, I find this stuff completely engrossing. Isn’t that pathetic?

Posted by ladylala | Report as abusive
 

You should meet Bryan Garner, Lady. I once had a 10-minute discussion with him in San Francisco about m-dashes and n-dashes.

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive
 

@Spin: WOW, a comma conference, a punctuation pow-wow–that would be so cool!

@Doc: Could not the second of your comma examples also be read as someone speaking to Moses, expressing gratitude to roommates and D.B. Cooper?

Gosh, I haven’t been this excited in a long, long time. Some time soon, Mr B, could you post a blog on subordinate clauses?

Posted by ladylala | Report as abusive
 

@Spin: WOW, a comma conference, a punctuation pow-wow–that would be so cool!

@Doc: Could not the second of your comma examples also be read as someone speaking to Moses, expressing gratitude to roommates and D.B. Cooper?

Gosh, I haven’t been this excited in a long, long time. Some time soon, Mr B, could you post a blog on subordinate clauses?

Posted by ladylala | Report as abusive
 

Gosh I’d love to, Lady, but I have to make a dash for it….

Posted by rcbasler | Report as abusive
 

Mr B: “dash for it”–hilarious!

Posted by ladylala | Report as abusive
 

Maybe I’ll write a little blurb on restrictive elements, but I need to discuss it first with my wife Marsha.

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive
 

So Doc, precisely what elements does your wife Marsha restrict you from?

Posted by ladylala | Report as abusive
 

This is why I love my readers. Who would have thought an item on punctuality would get this many comments?

Posted by rcbasler | Report as abusive
 

Quite a bit, Lady, since she is imaginary. But my other wife, Mrs. Doc, is non-restrictive.

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive
 

The was a song in the charts over here last year about the “Oxford comma”. :)

Posted by CrowGirl | Report as abusive
 

@Spin: “I dropped my toothpaste,” said Tom, crestfallen.

Posted by ladylala | Report as abusive
 

So, Doc, if you have one real wife and one imaginary wife, does that make you a semi-bigamist? Or a .33% polygamist? These are important distinctions in LaLaLand.

Posted by ladylala | Report as abusive
 

I imagine so, Lady. Lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala….

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive
 

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