New Meanings of Punctuation

Punctuation-marks-professional-translation-servicesA New York Times article discusses the interpretations and misinterpretations of punctuation marks. Of course, texting has raised new issues, and this isn't the first time the topic is of interest.

Mashable published an article more than a year ago about the perplexities of marks in messages, particularly periods as aggression. Turns out, only 39% of college students use punctuation at the ends of texts (45% at the ends of instant messages). 

The NY Times writer reminds us of the history of punctuation: 

"The origins of punctuation lie in ancient oration, when marks were used in handwritten speeches to advise when and for how long a speaker should pause. A period was a part of speech that had a beginning and end, a comma indicated the shortest pause, while the colon was somewhere between the two.

"But there are no pauses or inflections in digital communication; we aren't speaking the words out loud. Which means that even within the tiniest spaces, punctuation fills in the tonal holes."

She adds spaces before some marks, for example, "Can't wait !!" She believes this can "soften the marks themselves."  

One editor says it well: "You could drive yourself insane trying to decode the hidden messages in other people's punctuation." I'm sure many people do.

Image source.

Discussion Starters: 

  • What's your view about periods at the ends of text messages? 
  • Look at your most recent text messages. How are you using punctuation? Can any be misinterpreted? 
  • Can you remember a text that had confusing punctuation? Why did it confuse you?