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

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


LOREN: What languages do they make you learn in Uruguay?

If you want to be a lawyer, Italian.

Italian? Not Latin?

CARLOS: Italian.

SCOTT: That doesn't make any sense. I could see if you were going to be a chef, then Italian might be useful.

LOREN: French.

Or French. And you'd be required to completely forget English.


Did you enjoy your draconian lunch, Carlos?

SCOTT: Right now he's thinking, "I didn't eat a dragon."

Sunday, July 03, 2011

How's that Movie Coming Anyway?

MOM: Scott, can you do me a favor?

SCOTT: Only if you call it a "solid."

MOM: Can you do me a solid?



MOM: Can you do me another favor?

SCOTT: What did I tell you to say?

MOM: Can you do me a sordid?

SCOTT: That's not what I taught you. And now I'm kind of scared.


DAD: So what'd you do today?

SCOTT: Same old, you know. Richard and I spent a couple of hours watching various animals giving birth.

DAD: Like?

SCOTT: Like elephants. We watched this mother elephant plop one out. Not like a horse, you know, when you've got three or so people with Larry-the-Cable-Guy accents yanking on the thing, but no, it comes out at the bottom, like the eggs from the ovipositor in Aliens 2, and no sooner is this thing on the floor then a wave, and I mean a wave, of afterbirth comes out. I mean it comes and comes. It is like the finale of Carrie. Then the baby's not breathing, so the mother starts freaking out, and she begins to wail on it. Not like with little playful kicks or anything. She beats the living crap out of this thing, until finally it starts breathing. It's a beautiful thing.


Watching Independence Day.

SCOTT: Richard, see the little girl playing the President's daughter?


SCOTT: She was Ann on Arrested Development.