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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Imagined Lives of Punctuation Marks | Jen Doll, The Atlantic Wire

This article describes a different, amusing way to figure out how to use our punctuation marks: Consider them as individual people who should each be treated in unique ways.

Of course, as with any advice on human relationships--and writing--you'll probably need to spend some time deciphering Doll's descriptions and applying the advice to your circumstances--written, human or otherwise.

Doll writes:
Since punctuation marks can't talk, though, we could only imagine the personality traits and characteristics of a few of our other favorites.
Here are some examples:
The Em-Dash. Em-dash is complicated, and she's not about to let you forget it. It takes three keys to create her, after all. ... She is something of an attention-grabber, and can be a bit touchy-feely, but she only means to help people connect. She's a lover—not a fighter.

The Exclamation Point. The Exclamation Point is the punch in the gut of punctuation and a bit of a loose cannon, but in the best possible way: She's a fun punch in the gut! ... Loves horror movies! And comedies! Yay! Eff you! Sometimes she travels in packs!!!

The Question Mark. Highly insecure, the poor Question Mark only wants answers, and yet, never can muster enough authority to determine what those questions actually are. ...
Doll also describes the colon, semicolon, period, comma, parentheses, emoticon, ampersand, interrobang, and symbol for an obscenity.

For traditional explanations about how to use punctuation mark, visit Garbl's Editorial Style Manual. I don't have anything there (yet) on the emoticon, interrobang or symbol for obscenity.

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