The Perils of Punctuation

The Perils of Punctuation

Today is the ninth annual National Punctuation Day, the fun-filled holiday that reminds America that a semicolon is not a surgical procedure, nor is an ellipsis when the moon moves in front of the sun.

Ignoring my husband’s pleas of “pleeeeease don’t write about punctuation again,” I am reminding you of this date because: 1) I applaud it; and 2) I couldn’t think of anything else to write about (while being well aware that my blog is called "Waiting on God" and punctuation has nothing to do with that).

National Punctuation Day calls to mind my favorite late columnist, Herb Caen of San Francisco Chronicle and “Pullet Surprise” winning fame. Caen bestowed deputy status on an Apostrophe Posse of civilian grammarians, endowing them with the authority to make citizens’ arrests for crimes against punctuation.

Like Caen, my pet peeve is the improper use of the apostrophe. When apostrophes are used to make nouns plural (as in “two shirt’s for the price of one” or "come get your video’s here"), my usually calm Dr. Jekyll-like persona morphs into Mr. Hyde. My husband will verify this. Regretfully – for the state of my marriage as well as the literacy level of America – this occurs much too often.

And leaves me to wonder: 1) do people not see the green squiggly line on their computer screen which signals grammatical error; and 2) have English teachers been cut out of the education budget altogether?

Perhaps you have read about Old Navy’s recent mishap, printing a line of collegiate and NFL apparel that read “Lets Go” instead of “Let’s Go.” This issue was brought to the Collegiate Licensing Company’s attention (the organization responsible for clearing the licensing of sports teams’ names and logos used in marketing) which responded, in a nutshell, that bad grammar is part of the game. In other words, it is OK at a university level to use incorrect punctuation.

This year’s National Punctuation Day contest – writing three sentences correctly using 13 distinct punctuation marks – revolves around the 2012 presidential election. The highly-punctuated paragraphs are to campaign for the punctuation mark the contestant believes to be most "presidential.”

I tried to promote the period with my entry, highlighting the period’s unique ability to unify us. Don’t we all wish candidates would reach it sooner?

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