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According to this new Washington Post article,
the period / full stop is developing new connotations when it is used in texting and instant messaging, causing confusion across the generation gap.
From the article:
The period, meanwhile, has become the evil twin of the exclamation point. It’s now an optional mark that adds emphasis — but a nasty, dour sort of emphasis. “It is not necessary to use a period in a text message, so to make something explicit that is already implicit makes a point of it,” Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist at the University of California at Berkeley, told the New York Times.
A few years ago, Ben Crair at the New Republic wrote a hilarious history of the period in age of instant messaging. “The period was always the humblest of punctuation marks,” he began. “Recently, however, it’s started getting angry.” Crair noticed that in his text conversations, the period had stopped serving any grammatical purpose. Instead, it was mostly being used to express a certain tone or emotion. And that emotion was anger.
I had no idea. I will, however, continue to use periods in my texts until such time as I start using "CU L8R". I am pretty sure I have never LOLed yet, either.
So it's like a text equivalent of giving someone an icy stare. A sort of texticle.
But the use ain't new. Texting thrives on short sentences and incomplete sentences. And in perfectly ordinary English prose, short utterances punctuated as sentences will often give a sense of urgency and threat.
I mean it. See for yourself.
Even my screen reader, which puts in heavy pauses at full stops, really laboured those last three utterances.
Whole point of the period.
See what I mean? It's aggressive. Dismissive.
Nothing new about that.
Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus
remember telegrams: I BEG YOU STOP STOP
They were important then.
I'm puzzled therefore I think.