Ashok Silwal

Reading and writing, it happens to me, even quite often, to wonder about the use of punctuation……: this comma is placed right? what does this exclamation point add?….

“Punctuation is a subsystem of paragraphematic signs used in spelling, comprising a set of signs that serve to separate or highlight words, groups of words and phrases”… said Wikipedia.

So, punctuation is the set of conventional signs that serves to mark the written text and secondly, to reproduce the expressive intonations of speech.

The earliest signs indicating a pause in a speech appear in an inscription from the ninth century BC ! But it was with the medieval copyist monks that punctuation developed and enriched itself, around 1000 AD.

The next step took place in 1500, when a Venetian printer introduced the semicolon and the apostrophe and later the exclamation point an other.

What are the main signs?

Full Stop
Question mark
Exclamation mark
Quotation marks
Round Brackets
my list is not exhaustive !

Punctuation plays an important role in giving a logical sense to a text. Depending one where a point is placed for example, or a comma, the sense of the words and of the sentence is transformed.

Without these signs, the reader and /or the writer would be lost (with the exception of poetry which uses also metrics)

-At the park, I love watching the lions eating, the children playing.
-At the park, I love watching the lions eating the children playing.

A comma makes the difference !

It is not a question here of making a grammatical treatise on the use of punctuation but, recently, reading an article, I stopped at the exclamation mark.

The article was a bit argumentative and the author used several of these exclamation points, as a way to involve the reader, to give a stronger inflection to his words. This intrigued me and I had never really thought about it.

I began to associate the exclamation mark with astonishment, surprise, wonder but also with disgust, condemnation…. Our advertising experts know something about it.

Are exclamation marks useful? Some say YES, some say NO !

-They serve as much as other forms of punctuation; their purpose is to change the tone of the voice.
-They emphasize the words on the page expressing wonder and a wide range of strong emotions and feelings.
-They can make those who see them more aware of danger ( road signs for example.. STOP!)

-According to some writers, they are excessive and annoying.
-They tell us how to read a sentence rather than letting us interpret the tone.
-The skill of the writer lies in creating sentences that convey emotions; relying on the exclamation point is a good shortcut for the lazy.

All punctuation contains emotions, wants to convey ideas and feelings, it indicates the reader a more or less secret meaning, a complicity.

“You remember that day………………. ”
“You remember that day ? ”
“You remember that day ! “
“You remember that day . “

Just meant to be a small observation…..but perhaps those who have enjoyed a little reading these lines , will look at the next text they read with different attention to punctuation;

Then it will mean that I did not write completely uselessly !!

You can also learn while having fun in a light way…

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