Lessons from the front line of the writing trade

Full stops have become the latest casualty of youthful sensitivity as experts say they can be “intimidating”.

Blah, blah, little snowflakes etc.

Although there is a point* here:

The meaning of the full stop in online communications has been a debate raging among linguists for years.Prof David Crystal, one of the world’s leading language experts, thinks the use of the punctuation mark is being “revised in a really fundamental way”.
In his 2015 book, Making a Point, he explains that instead of its original purpose, signifying the end of a sentence, it has become an “emotion marker”, signifying anger or annoyance.
He said: “You look at the internet or any instant messaging exchange – anything that is a fast dialogue taking place. People simply do not put full stops in, unless they want to make a point.

“Look. At. This.” is different from “Look at this”.

Here the particular point is about putting a full stop at the end of a text message. Given that you’ve sent it you probably have already finished it therefore the use of the . or not the . can take on that new meaning.

There is though nothing very new with this. We peeps who write for the internets were being told 15 years back that we should not use a . in a headline. At least, at the end of one. A ? Or a ! might occasionally be used but never a . Put people off d’ye see?

Well, no, I don’t, but them’s the rules we’re given.

*See what I did there? Ahahaha! Ahem.

26 thoughts on “Lessons from the front line of the writing trade”

  1. It comes as some considerable surprise to me that they know full stops exist. Apart from as a key below “L” gets mis-tapped continually. Message I got this morning consisted of 8 lines, with one capital letter at the beginning & no punctuation whatsoever. In Spanish. It has the complexity of a Times crossword. First to translate, bearing in mind accurate translation may be context dependent. Then to try & get the thing into sentences & clauses so it makes some sort of coherent sense. I’ve now got to the point the whole thing could have at least three mutually contradictory meanings.
    And no. This is not the output of my third world friends. This is a message from a Spanish business & is presumably important. To them, anyway.

  2. Possible pendantry, but I was under the impression headers never took full stops in journalism. At least that what a journalist mate told me thirty years back. Although he was red-top, not the Thunderer. Including them would make the reader less likely to read the article below. Psychological, like.

  3. If anyone is intimidated by punctuation marks, then they had best lock themselves away in their homes and hide under the duvet in case the bogeyman gets them, leaving the adults to get on with their lives.

    Meanwhile, I will continue to use the full stop to indicate the end of a sentence whether it is a text, email, blog post, short story or novel and those who don’t like it can boil their heads.

  4. You don’t have full stops in newspaper headlines. At least not in the past 100-odd years.

    Plus, what Longrider said.

  5. n his 2015 book, Making a Point, he explains that instead of its original purpose, signifying the end of a sentence, it has become an “emotion marker”, signifying anger or annoyance.

    Has anyone actually encountered evidence of this? I have never had any indication from Gen Z or anyone else, that they regard full stops as such.

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    Longrider August 24, 2020 at 9:39 am – “Meanwhile, I will continue to use the full stop to indicate the end of a sentence whether it is a text, email, blog post, short story or novel and those who don’t like it can boil their heads.”

    You, sir, are worse than Hitler! That is racist White male patriarchal Imperialist oppression right there.

    So keep up the good work.

  7. First-hand job experience. First hand-job experience.

    Life is difficult for the readers of writers who have a prejudice against hyphens. It means that a sentence often isn’t an assembly of words but an assembly of phrases, the borders between which cannot be deduced by the reader.

    Nor – it seems – do some people use the dash much even though sometimes it is superior to the parenthetical comma. Americans seem not all that keen on the adverb, though I do admire their new one bigly.

    Or I do admire their new one “bigly”. Bigly is majorly good.

  8. Whan I taught at a Pupil Referral Unit, a bit under 20 years ago, I was told off by the boss leader for delivering worksheets in the Arial font.

    She said the Young People found it ‘intimidating’.

    So I had to change my default font to Comic Sans.

    True story. Your tax pounds at work.

  9. ‘ “Look. At. This.” is different from “Look at this”.’

    In textspeak wouldn’t it be « [email protected]!!!!!!!! »

    But… looKaTthiS

    there is a solution to getting rid of full stopS simply start each sentence with lower case and end with a capitaL then the poor little sensitive dears won’t have to deal with full stops and be offendeD

    and bonuSyou can do away with spaces between sentences toOwon’t that be greaT?

  10. @CJNerd,
    After many years of exam papers being typeset by the exam section, the instructions came from on high that the papers had to be submitted camera-ready. Then, somewhat later, they wouldn’t let us prepare exam papers in Times, and it had to be Arial – and a largish font too – because dyslexics apparently can’t read Times (with serifs). However, the front page of the exam paper still had the instructions on how many questions to answer etc prepared in Times, and that could not be altered under threat of disciplinary action. The poor bloody dyslexics can just go and feck themselves, I suppose.
    Not like when I was an undergraduate. There weren’t any dyslexics. Nor anyone who had a serious illness, disability or past injury. Very few wore glasses. The point was that anyone with those problems simply didn’t get through the many hurdles of school life. My exam papers when I wasan undergrad were all prepared in a very small font (in Times!), but that was the past, and in that foreign country they did things differently.

  11. All punctuation is a form of politeness. The writer makes it easy for the reader with sentences, paragraphs and so forth.

    Some punctuation serves a different purpose. LOL and !!! signify a moron.

  12. I will henceforth end all text messages to my niece (the only person I text) with a colon in the hope that she will be waiting, waiting, waiting for the next message: which never comes….

  13. Dearieme – when ‘bigly’ became a ‘thing’, I went and looked it up in the OED and was disappointed to see that it had been knocking around neglected for centuries. The earliest use given dates back to 1532 and Thomas More: “And bereth it out bigly wt shameles deuelyshe heresie”.

    Mr Biden, in contrast only reaches back as far as Neil Kinnock’s oratorical legacy, I believe.

  14. Times (old and new) Roman was specifically designed to make it easy to read stories in smaller fonts, the serifs are supposed to assist in this.

  15. Mr JCB: Ditto. Digging them out a couple of years ago, I can still read them, serifs and all. However I can no longer answer the questions…

  16. Full stops at the end of bullet points annoy me, if you were going to use punctuation then write a bloody sentence don’t use bullet points in the first place

  17. ..-. ..- .-.. .-../… – — .–./.. …/… – .. .-.. .-../..- … . -../..-. — .-./
    .. -. – . .-. -. . -/– — .-. … ./-.-. — -.. ./.-.-.-

  18. I agree. They can be intimidating. I remember the first time my girlfriend sent me to buy manhole covers because she was too shy to buy them herself.

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