Tag: Punctuation

If I Were King of the Internet, I Would Mandate the Percontation Point⸮

 

Satire. Irony. Sarcasm. The written word seldom conveys these things well enough to tell them from someone’s making a serious statement or proposal. (This has even been codified and is now known as Poe’s Law.) Distinguishing serious from ironic is a very old problem, and one that was solved in about 1580. It was in that decade that Henry Denham, an English printer, came up with a solution. His idea was to have a new mark of punctuation that would distinguish when someone was not serious. That mark was the percontation point, and it looked like this: ⸮.

Thus, were I the King of the Internet, you would be mandated to use the percontation point⸮ It would probably be the only punctuation available to such publications as The Onion or The Babylon Bee. And maybe some mistakes would no longer be made:

Standards and Anti-Standards

 

lol i dont know why sooooo many millennials hate grammar but whatchya gonna do about it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Joking aside, this phenomenon drives me mad. Scarcely a day passes when I don’t see some flagrantly ungrammatical Facebook posting by someone who should know better. Twenty-something scientists, mathematicians, historians, poets, journalists, and even editors — editors, for goodness’ sake! — all write in the same quasi-illiterate nonstyle. When the social-media output of America’s aspiring literati is indistinguishable from that of its middle-school dropouts, something is deeply, deeply wrong. Our language’s Millennial gatekeepers haven’t merely abandoned their posts; they’ve joined the barbarians in storming the castle.

One Space or Two?

 

There is a battle going on in America and, whether you know it or not, you have chosen a side and will be judged accordingly. Unlike the Oxford comma—a polarizing debate that has ended lifelong friendships and probably caused some climate change— this problem is insidious; a daily, largely ignored conflict between millions of computer-literate Americans and the publishing community.

Which side you’re on was probably fixed back in high school typing class, when you were taught to put two spaces after a period. I don’t know why this was taught. No one does. It’s just how most of the free world has been typing since forever.