Thursday, April 1, 2010

No one respects my poor old grammar.

I think it's funny--nay, it's sad--that the Internet--which is only made possible through a complex syntax of semicolons, commas, periods, and parentheses; and only navigated with the help of colons, slashes, periods, and the occasional question mark--is so unfriendly to punctuation when used in content.

A few days ago, I posted a question on Yahoo! Answers, and a notification popped up: "Whoa! You used a lot of punctuation. Try revising your question." I was right miffed! I needed that punctuation! I wasn't about to sacrifice my good syntax to the whims of some Internet robot, so I simply ignored the warning and posted the question.

But it made me curious. I came back today and tested various questions. I get the notification when I use as little as two double quotes and a comma. I don't know how that qualifies as "a lot," and Yahoo! was not so gracious as to actually explain to me what's wrong with offsetting a quote according to the rules of grammar. Or how it can have an exclamation point as an integral part of its identity and still be so prejudiced against punctuation.

Shortly after the Yahoo! Answers debacle, I learned in an email marketing tutorial that using excessive punctuation in your email subjects is more likely to get them flagged as spam. Now, this I can understand, after receiving enough messages along the lines of "CHEAP VIAGRA!!!!!!" to be unsurprised that exclamation points might be the kiss of death. But commas? Quotation marks? Properly articulated sentences?

Punctuation is essential to meaning! You can't just do away with it because some people misuse it! Consider the classic case of the koala who eats shoots and leaves, versus its evil twin who eats, shoots, and leaves (we won't go into how that miscreant of a koala acquired a firearm).

I foresee a day when all communications revert to pre-Medieval standards:

WESHALLWRITEINALLCAPSANDNOTWORRYABOUTSILLY
THINGSLIKEENSURINGTHATOURWRITINGISUNDERSTOOD
OHANDALSOWEWILLTYPEINBLACKLETTER

2 comments:

Geoff said...

I'm sorry. I stopped reading when you dropped the word "nay" into my life.

Amy Shipley said...

I respect your grammar! Interestingly, I'm still slightly annoyed when people use poor grammar on the internet and such, but personally I tend to drop capitalization when instant messaging. Of all things, it seems to be least important in communicating. My pet peeve is when people add apostrophes to plural nouns (e.g. "Banana's are on sale"), and especially to acronyms (e.g. "Try contacting other TA's.")