Thursday, July 07, 2011

Works Cited

The emphatic period

English V2.72 introduced the multiple shriek stop, intended to allow subtle distinction in emphasis. In practice this facility has been abused, and has lost its force. In the following dialogue, it is not clear whose presence is more surprising, Julie’s or Wayne’s:

Who did you see on the High Road???

It was Julie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Who was she with?????

She was with Wayne!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Long term users will recall English V2.96 attempted to persuade heavy emphasisers to group their emphatic punctuation in bunches of five for easy counting

It was Julie !!!!! !!!!! !!!!! !!!!! !!!!! !!!!! !!!

and a V3.03 offered system using a suffix convention to denote the intended repetition

It was Julie !33

but neither has ever been much taken up by the big public.

Now, top punctuation boffins have come up with a solution that reintroduces the power of exclamation but has a built-in mechanism that defeats attempts at repeated-stop hyperbole. Here is the emphatic period in action:

It. Was. Julie.

Ooof. Pretty emphatic stuff, eh? Now watch what happens when the user attempts to introduce more emphasis by tripling the number of full stops used:

It... Was... Julie...

Instead of increasing the impact, the repetition activates the safety feature and introduces an effect of hesitancy—not what the writer intended at all.

However, I have to warn you that this feature may not make the final release of V3.31. There has been a legal challenge from the telcos, who stand to lose many £millions per annum if it goes through. Apparently a significant proportion of text traffic comprises teenagers sending !!!s to each other.

Verity Stob, "Excuse me, Miss, but your pronouns need upgrading," Speculative Grammarian, Volume CLXII, Number 2, July 2011


Malene M said...

that is the strangest blog post I've read in a while, but quite funny. xD

Scott said...

I. aim. to. mystify.