Punctuation Abuse Is a Serious Crime!

12 04 2012

Let me ask you this:  How many question marks does it take to ask a question?  I know it seems obvious, but some people don’t seem to know.  So here’s the answer:  It takes ONE question mark to write a question, at least in English.  So why are some people addicted to no fewer than three question marks per sentence?

Rare enough in published language, this excessive punctuation is all too frequently received in communiques directed only at me.  Each time, this crowd of wondering sentence-enders pummels me like a shotgun of inquisition when it appears in my personal incoming notes, letters, and emails,  which it too often does. Did you get my email???  Did you do what I asked???  Where’s the document???

Every extra squiggle is like a little mental whip beating my naked vulnerable grey matter into a bloody submission.   Worst of all, these writers are not particularly desperate for an answer.  They do this to nearly all their sentences, blithely churning out interrogation point after interrogation point after interrogation point, as if each added one were not the printed equivalent of a Malatov cocktail.

Somewhere, a poor punctuation bank sits empty because people keep adding another and another and another mark to otherwise perfectly good one-question mark questions.  Meanwhile, these superfluous scrawls send me to the end of my sanity when I receive them.  Why?  Why? Why three?  One is enough.  Two is over the top. Three is ruinous.  Four and you oughta be arrested.

The problem here is a lack of repercussions.  People are abusing punctuation with impunity.  There is no punctuation prison, or even punctuation stockades.  Punctuation abuse is a serious offense, but I’m guessing that it’s nothing a little good old-fashioned humiliation wouldn ‘t cure.

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