Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Punctuation Rebels

What am I reading now?  I've Got Your Number (Sophie Kinsella)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far?  Have I ever read a Sophie Kinsella book without laughing out loud? Nope. This one either! It gets zany right away.

The main character loses her engagement ring (well, really it's a family heirloom, and she now has to hide her left hand from her fiancee and her future MIL) then her phone. How is the hotel supposed to call her when they find her ring? Oh good, she finds a phone. But the man who lost it wants her to give it back to him. But really she needs it right now--so NO!

She finds out that planning a wedding and corporate scandal have a lot in common.

The thing I love about Sophie Kinsella's books, or chick lit for that matter, is the hilarious situations the main characters get themselves into. And all the lying in the world just keeps getting them deeper. The humor is wonderful. This is the kind of book to sit back and laugh until your cheeks hurt.

Punctuation rules are rules.


• Know them.
• Use them.
• Don’t break them.
Uh-hmmm. Except when you need to.
*shocked looks*  *professors fainting*  *an audible gasp*
Hear me out. I didn’t say blatantly disregard. Or even ignorance is bliss.
But maybe punctuation is a tool more than a rule.
In the hierarchy of speech, we give more stress to some separations between messages than we give to others. Seems like this could help inform us as we strive to embed implied differences in meaning than standard punctuation might allow an author to create.

Huh? Example please.

This one feels confrontational
You. Aren’t. Listening. And I’m not going to stay here to discuss it with you.
The next one feels final
You aren’t listening. And I’m not going to stay here to discuss it with you.
This one has some emphasis to it
You aren’t listening–and I’m not going to stay here to discuss it with you.
The semicolon tells us they are closely related (the not listening and leaving parts)
You aren’t listening; and I’m not going to stay here to discuss it with you.
This one sounds a little bossy or uppity
You aren’t listening, and I’m not going to stay here to discuss it with you.
This sounds like a wishy-washy threat, doesn’t it?
You aren’t listening and I’m not going to stay here to discuss it with you.

Okay, I can see your point. Punctuation can be used to vary the emotional intent behind the words–just don’t over do it!

(I used some of Dawkins hierarchy in this example, but there are others to consider–if you’d like to study punctuation.)

Thought for today





2 comments:

Donna K. Weaver said...

Great examples! Fortunately, as writers we have more discretion--artistic license, if you will--when it comes to grammar and punctuation.

Renae W. Mackley said...

Thanks for "discussing it with us". The book sounds great too.