OPINION

Secret language of passionate punctuaters

Secret language of passionate punctuaters

What is your favourite punctuation mark?

I asked my Facebook pals that question, and a person whose behaviour shows high enthusiasm endorsed the exclamation mark!

Another person nominated the semicolon as being functional and slightly uppity; I like that combination. Others named the semicolon because it has become a symbol of anti-suicide thinking. The symbolism is that there is more to come.

The humble full stop has its supporters. The full stop says calmly: I have completed a written thought.

The comma has fans. It has many different roles, but mostly it gives readers a chance to pause and reflect.

A scientist pal likes the colon, which is the only punctuation mark to share its name with a body part. The colon says that something cool follows. Scientists use colons to get a jumbo-pack of words into article titles. Here is a title I helped create: The Relationship Between the Five-Factor Model of Personality and Symptoms of Clinical Disorders: A Meta-Analysis.

Ellipses have their supporters. The three dots show that there is more that could be said but the time is not right...

Left out by my pals -- like an unwanted child -- is the dash. A pair of dashes tells us to pay attention.

You see braces { } on any keyboard. Did you ever wonder why they are there? They indicate, for computer programmers, that everything within is to go on one line of coding. For mathematicians, braces indicate which operation is done last.

Some individuals want more excitement than that provided by any ordinary punctuation mark. They lean toward the interrobang, which includes an exclamation mark and a question mark squished together. If you read comic books, you have seen it.

Some like repeat punctuation marks such as double question marks to show great interest or three punctuation marks in a row to show great enthusiasm and a love of punctuation marks. Are you in this camp?!?

A pal who often competes on TV quiz shows pointed out that long ago Timothy Dexter wrote a book with no punctuation When people complained he said readers could salt and pepper the second edition as they please

If I missed your favourite punctuation mark, do not fret. Use that mark twice as often now to show your support for it.

What does your favourite punctuation mark say about you?

John Malouff is an Associate Professor at the School of Psychology, University of New England.