Who knew that today was National Punctuation Day?
In an era of instant messaging and texting, some may think punctuation almost irrelevant, except as elements of emoticons (which have been around since the 19th century, believe it or not). Others might argue there is a growing misuse—and misunderstanding—of punctuation. A number even consider the demise of proper punctuation as representative of the decline of civilization as we know it.
One of my pet peeves is apostrophe catastrophes. I think this is the leading punctuation faux pas in US English. I often wonder what the item is possessing when I see an apostrophe before an ending S that doesn’t belong there. Consider the sign in the opening picture: the baguette’s what? What does the baguette have? And who cares if Baker has a baguette? If Baker had a lot of baguettes, that might be worth a sign.
The misplaced apostrophe is a bigger deal than just the possessive. What about the difference between your and you’re? This not uncommon mistake has different meanings. Its corollary is even more insidious: there, they’re, their. How many times have you seen the wrong word in that context?
Although it doesn’t usually “bother” me, probably the next most common punctuation error is the unnecessary quotation marks—you know, when a word or phrase is place inside quotes for no good reason. While you have to see improper apostrophes, the unnecessary quotes can also occur in speach. Remember the last time you saw someone make the “quotes” gesture? If they’re making the gesture, it’s probably not proper use of quotation marks.
The sign at right is a nice sentiment, but it leaves me with two questions. Congrat’s what, or does Congrat own the Class of “2009”? Is it really the class of 2009 or are we “just saying” it’s the class of 2009?
So, is punctuation and language a big deal? I don’t know. Why not ask “Punctuation hero” Stefan Gatward?
Think punctuation doesn’t really matter? Consider this. But, is it a big deal in the blogospere? Blogs can be corrected. Maybe the real concern is punctuation and usage based on millennia does matter.