My dictionary defines punctuation as “the act, practice or system of using certain standardized marks and signs in writing and printing, as to separate sentences, independent clauses, parenthetical phrases, etc., in order to make the meaning more easily understood.” Punctuation creates order out of chaos and provides us with clear, universal communication. Consider this: I love punctuation! Or, the alternative: I love punctuation (It is extremely difficult for me to leave out the period or exclamation point on that last sentence. I can’t feel my pulse and I’m having trouble breathing. Punctuation withdrawal?) Actually, I feel the same way about capitalization, grammar and spelling but those are topics for future posts.
Words, all by themselves, could never fully express the thoughts that I’m trying to convey to the person or persons who are reading a letter, an email or a novel that I’ve written. I don’t even want to imagine a world without punctuation. Unfortunately, lately, I’ve had many opportunities to glimpse that world: texting, instant messaging and even writing quick comments on some of the social networks often show a total lack or blatant misuse of punctuation.
Don’t misunderstand me, I think all of those means of communication are great and I know that brevity is necessary; at least people are trying to communicate with one another and that’s always a good thing. My concern is that everyone will become so accustomed to using the abbreviated forms of words with little or no punctuation that, the practice will eventually become common and even acceptable. That’s how slang and buzz words came into being; people used them so much that they’ve become universally accepted. Let’s not let that happen to punctuation. I’m not sure my heart could take it!