Posts Tagged ‘punctuation’
Oh baby, I’ve been reminded recently how much pronouns matter. Without knowing gender, it’s bothered me for months to not have a proper way to address our growing baby Beck. I consciously boycotted “it,” and opted for “they” and “them.”
As an example, I’d say, “They’re moving. I can feel them!” This (understandably) prompted others asking over and over if I’m carrying twins. My dad suggested using the universal “he,” but that didn’t feel right either, on account that our he/she(?) could be a girl.
Solving my “lack of pronoun” problem
Yesterday my husband and I had our much-anticipated mid-pregnancy ultrasound. We saw baby’s heart, brain, ribs, and toes. I noticed the technician said, “There’s its bladder and its pancreas,” and the word person I am, out popped the question: “May we get a pronoun? I’m really wanting to know what this baby is.”
She smiled, moving the ultrasound wand down the perfect 12-ounce body. Then came an announcement that surprised me so much, happy tears started down my cheeks.
It’s wonderful to have a pronoun now: SHE’s a GIRL!!! She’s healthy and beautiful and we love her already.
Celebration of punctuation
To add to the joy, yesterday also happened to be the 10th annual National Punctuation Day®. It’s a legitimate holiday with its own website. Think of all the over-used apostrophes around the world; isn’t it right those little marks that make our language lovely get a shout out?
For my fellow contest (and grammar) lovers out there, you can enter the national punctuation essay contest. Here’s the prompt from the site:
In an essay of no more than 250 words, explain how National Punctuation Day® has affected the way you think about punctuation (or not), and how the holiday has affected your writing (or not).
Send your essays to <<Jeff(at)NationalPunctuationDay.com>> by October 31. Please use proper punctuation. Contest winners will be announced in December.
While I’m all about proper punctuation and respecting the lowly comma, some occasions do call for breaking the rules. Take exclamation points. I rarely use them in professional writing, savoring their value for truly dramatic moments. A former colleague of mine had the rule: “You only get two exclamation points in life. One is to announce your death!” When I usually use an exclamation point, I stick to one.
Yesterday I couldn’t help myself. I’m still busting out pronouns and punctuation all over the place: She’s a GIRL!!!
Some punctuation marks never see the light of day. Say what?!
That, my friends, is an example of when the interrobang could come in handy. When the question mark and exclamation point had a love child, they named him INTERROBANG, although you likely never heard of him in English class.
Truth be told, according to all-knowing Wikipedia, American Martin K. Speckter conceptualized the interrobang in 1962. “As the head of an advertising agency, Speckter believed that advertisements would look better if copywriters conveyed surprised rhetorical questions using a single mark.”
As you know, the interrobang failed to live up to Speckter’s lofty dreams for it, and in today’s digital world, the interrobang doesn’t exist in most fonts.
I say it’s time we bring it back, and I’m not alone. Chief Judge Frank H. Easterbrook used an interrobang in the 2012 Seventh Circuit opinion Robert F. Booth Trust v. Crowley. The State Library of New South Wales includes the interrobang in its logo.
Here are some more interrobang-worthy examples:
He did what‽
Expelled from school, again‽
Now, tag, it’s your turn. Share some phrases that deserve the long-lost interrobang. (You can copy/paste mine, if you want.)
P.S. Next week I’ll host a contest here unlike any you’ve ever seen, with rad prizes you don’t wanna miss. Standby!