Prepare yourself, people who love words and writing and those symbols we use to designate pauses and emotions and inflections (and such) throughout our prose and occasionally poetry as well. Monday is the annual holiday of National Punctuation Day (which is fittingly just five days after the birthday of punctuation art known as the emoticon) and we are gearing up to have the most exciting one, ever! (Ever!!!). In honor of the day, we'll be baking this punctuation meatloaf, wearing our favorite "Comma? I Hardly Know Her!" T-shirt, scanning photos of punctuation tattoos, and parsing the web for an array of punctuation mishaps. Speaking of the latter, please send us your most abhorred mistakes—it's for its? Your for you're? Simple yet horrific excesses? Carelessly incorrect use? We'll have some other surprises, too. This is bigger than our own birthday, which we would appreciate if you'd ignore as getting older is no fun ... no fun at all. (&!@%!!) :(.
There is, however, some fun already kicking up over at the New Yorker, where at Questioningly, a blog based itself in punctuation (the question mark, that is), Ben Greenman presents an evocative new challenge, to "combine two existing pieces of punctuation into a new piece of punctuation." Greenman adds, "Oh, also, you have to name your fused punctuation mark and give some sense of its function. An already existing example is the interrobang, ‽, which conveys excited disbelief. But maybe there should be a ,? mark, which indicates slowness and confusion, or a /\, which indicates disingenuous differentiation between two otherwise similar elements. (What?!) Anyway, you get it. Knock two pieces of punctuation together. Name the resulting ungodly hybrid. That’s your mission." (Tweet your response, as per the rules of the game, with the hashtag #tnyquestion.)
If we're mashing together punctuation, though, consider that you'll have to take into account their personalities and lifestyles as well. Should you really, for instance, pair the proud colon with the passive agressive, timid ellipses (:...) to create a one-eyed perplexed man with an extremely wide face who only eats soft foods? Or, perhaps, the attention-loving semi-colon with her dutiful sister, always on the brink of rage, (;,) to create... an impossibly fit runner, or maybe some sort of amoeba? Or what about just ampersanding ourselves into a stupor: &&&&&&&&&&& (ouch), the way we do with the punctuation mark of the year (!!!!!)? Ooh, that might be one in itself. We'll call it The Everything Bagel, and dub it complicated but delicious with tofu cream cheese. (!)
Insets via Flickr/Francis Storr, Flickr/Brett Jordan.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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