Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What's that thing called?

It has happened again -- someone who's writing I admire has made a public declaration against the misuse of punctuation.

Crap like that used to make me afraid to write -- pushed around by punctuation snobs -- what a shame.

The way I see it now is that if you have a hold of the rules, it's a gift from God and you aught to be more humble about it.

I try, I really do -- take that last post for example. When it came to writing "in-between", I felt a lurch in the punctuation portion of my brain. Questions: "Does that dash thing go there?", "What is that thing anyway? A hyphen?", "Is it 'in between'? or 'in-between?'"

Presently, I forget how to quote within a quote, but I know the triple mark at the end of that last question can't be right. And do I need to quote my thoughts?

I'm not real sure.

I googled about the hyphen and it seems to be done both ways, with no particular instance giving up the rule. Then I check at AskOxford.com and they don't know either.

Sweet validation. Thank you Oxford.

I don't have have time to look up my every punctuating doubt. I'm proud of myself for even knowing it was called a hyphen (total recall -- no google necessary).

When in doubt, I usually go for these things: --.

The double dash.

I'm sure the dahses have a formal name, but I don't have time to look it up. I do know they are supposed to be used when you are not quite ready for a new sentence and you want to make reference or clarification on the thing you just said, or something like that. When I'm not sure if I'm in need of a comma or the double dash, I always go for the double dash.

I probably shouldn't point that out because now you will be distracted by them, "Yes, there she goes again -- she's used those dashes."

Alas, my friends, tis the double dash which gives me flow. Without them, my entire writing experience would consist of punctuation wonder. Thoughts would jam and fragment into worthless bits of uninspired starts and stops.

I try, I really do. I'm as distracted as the next person by poor spelling, poor grammar and punctuation run amok. For me the main rule of writing is; learn as you go. (Was that the correct use of that semi-colon? Do I need to put quotes around "learn as you go"? Is this a case for the double dash? Neither? What is the correct way to separate the phrase? It ought to be separated, right?).

Forget it!

Writing is enriching for the writer no matter how well it's done. With a little luck and/or practice -- it's enriching for the reader as well.

Fear not the rules of language and go for it.

Write! Write, I say!

3 Comments:

Blogger kim said...

I'm all messed up. I keep finding punctuation mistakes in this post -- I've screwed myself.

Must. Walk. Away. From. Computer. Now.

Good bye!

11:33 AM  
Blogger Mel said...

hahahahah.... love it. i've just given up. i do all lower case (as you can see), overuse elipses...... (and put too many dots in the elipses themselves), and most of the time don't put apostrphes into my contractions. i had to do enough of that crap in school. and hell, since my email and MS Word check all those things for me automatically, why bother?!

12:17 PM  
Blogger kim said...

Oh yeah, I've seen some people darn near burst an aneurysm over the overuse of the elipses. And you, you are doing the double whammy with too many dots on top of it...Really!

...I mean.....what kind of moron?......testament to the failure of public schools......un-educated.....stupid.....idiot.....why do I have to suffer these retards day in and day out?....

11:47 AM  

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