Saturday, December 4, 2010

Punctuation and vocal variety

One advantage of speaking over writing is that we can convey tone via inflection and gestures. We even can use paired fingers to make “quotation marks” in the air when explaining an evil plan. In writing we just have to use punctuation marks or emoticons.

For example, a percontation point (like a backward question mark, as shown above) can be used at the end of a rhetorical question.

Chess has a vocabulary with six punctuation combinations for commenting on moves:

!! = Brilliant Move
! = Good Move
!? = Interesting Move
?! = Dubious Move
? = Mistake
?? = Blunder

In his Sheldon cartoons Dave Kellett occasionally has lamented that we need more punctuation marks to address everyday situations. Some of his are existing symbols with reassigned meanings like:

% = Only a tiny part of me could be considered glad.

//// = I build huge mental walls to block awkward truths.

Others are brand new symbols for:

Your ravings make no sense. I highly suspect you’ve been breathing paint fumes.

Don’t particularly want to know the answer.

To the Car! Quickly!

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