Tuesday, December 15, 2015

When you don't need punctuation - How the rules have changed

As a pedant, I've always been a stickler for correct punctuation.

After all, I earn a buck by proofreading; I once taught typing, word processing and business communication to future leaders in commerce and industry. How could I not adhere to punctuation rules?

In my classes, using our college style guide, work submitted was either 100% correct or it failed. We commercial teachers had all the hallmarks of a Grammar Nazi, which I'm sure the students called us behind our backs.

Our view was that if students could produce 100% correct documents at college, by the time they got to work, they would have slipped a bit, but not sufficient to make a mess of it. Perhaps 80% correct.

Since I strode the halls of the Higher Colleges of Technology and Queensland TAFE, the world has moved on.

Today, I read an article about omitting the full stop in text messages. I was almost crippled with shock, especially when I read the academic nonsense, "Full stops at the end of a sentence can also be construed as a passive-aggressive symbol"

Oh, my goodness - what a load of bullshit (excuse my Australianism). Passive-aggressive?

It's true that between the 70s and 90s, there was a change in thinking about punctuation that favoured a minimalist approach - without adversely effecting meaning.

For example, In Australia, commas were considered unnecessary for things such as the address lines in letters ie,

Dear Dr Death,
50 Bloggs Street, 
SYDNEY

had the unnecessary commas removed. The thinking was that it made not one scrap of difference to readers' comprehension and saved two keystrokes.

Another favourite was to eliminate the full stops in acronyms eg,

R.A.A.F became RAAF and Mr J.R.Tolkein became Mr JR Tolkein.

These all made sense and we began teaching students how to adjust to the new approach.

If full stops aren't necessary in text messages and the recipient can still understand the message, then they are better off omitted. I must remember that the next time I send a message, lol.

Robin

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