Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

National Punctuation Day ~ I Missed It, #@/%#* … !

Yep, me, a published author, missed National Punctuation Day—for the last nine years!!

Who knew?

Why didn’t we all get a letter from some official?

At least, our publishers or editors or agents could have alerted us!

Now, let us prepare for next September 24th (those of us in the U.S.A.—other countries may adopt it, too…).

I found a guest post on the Missouri State Teachers Association WebSite (and, there just might be a punctuation mistake in their title?) by Jeff Rubin, who “has written and designed more than 1,800 company newsletters since starting his newsletter publishing firm” and is the Founder of the official Day (probably some missing punctuation in that description…)—he says:

“I started National Punctuation Day in 2004 because I was concerned that our language skills are declining. Test scores confirm my suspicions. A study in 2007 by California State University-East Bay revealed that nearly 60 percent of incoming freshmen needed remedial English classes. Nationwide, 28 percent of incoming college freshmen enrolled in remedial classes, according to a 2004 report by the National Center for Education Statistics. This is unconscionable.

“We’re losing more of our language every year. There was an article in the San Francisco Chronicle last year in which parents questioned the need to teach their children how to spell. Unbelievable! With this attitude, it won’t be ‘no child left behind’, but rather ‘all children left behind’.”

By the way, Since I was quoting Jeff, I had to use “s around his words, but he used “s in his sentences, so I had to change his “s to ‘s (double quote to single quote) to abide by the rules of punctuation.

Also, I “broke” a rule of punctuation because the end of his last sentence, according to the rules should have been, rather ‘all children left behind.'”, and I put, rather ‘all children left behind’.”

I feel the single quote mark after the last word belongs before the period since its use is to close the quote; then, the double quote closes the full quote of the full sentence

The rule that all quote marks Must follow all other punctuation at the end of a sentence is not a rule of literary clarity—it arose when typesetters, in the days of lead type and wooden frames, found that, if the punctuation (thinner) was outside the quote (fatter), it would fall out of the frame—it’s just a mechanical rule and can safely be broken by literary mavericks :-)

Then, there’s my favorite poet, Emily Dickinson, who threw out nearly all normal punctuation and replaced it with dashes of various lengths. From Dashing Genius: Emily Dickinson and the Punctuation of Cognition :

“Edith Wylder analyzed thirty poetry manuscripts…and identified 221 irregular notations, further classified as angular slants, reversed slants, horizontal marks, and curved marks. After an admittedly rough mathematical calculation, I estimate over seven thousand dash-like notations in Dickinson’s holographs. In a videotaped interview, poet Adrienne Rich recalls: ‘I’ll never forget the shock of opening the second edition of the poems in which the dashes had been restored and getting a sense of a whole new reading of the poetry, a whole new voice’;  the resulting typography seemed ‘much more jagged, much more personal, much more original, much more uncontainable than I had ever thought her to be.'”

You can visit the official National Punctuation Day WebSite and find all sorts of curious and fun stuff about these sometimes pesky, sometimes critical marks.

And, The Atlantic Wire has two cool posts about punctuation:

Writers’ Favorite Punctuation Marks

The Imagined Lives of Punctuation Marks
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9 responses to “National Punctuation Day ~ I Missed It, #@/%#* … !

  1. chazdesimone September 26, 2012 at 11:55 am

    I missed National Punctuation Day [visualize an interrobang here]
    Alexander, this is my favorite post of yours of all time. I had no idea Punctuation Day existed, but I’ll look forward to next September 24. As you know, my AmperArt series is all about the ampersand.
    I was enlightened and entertained by your many references and resources. Thanks for that clip of two of my favorite entertainers. That’s when TV was creative and fun.
    You certainly win the “Anal Analysist Award” about where and why you place your quotation marks!
    I’m reading your post, appropriately, in the middle of creating my AmperArt piece for September.
    For those who don’t know, the interrobang was supposed to be a new punctuation mark that superimposed one of these ! over one of these ?. It never took off. In fact, it’s difficult or impossible to create even with a computer keyboard. As long as no one ever creates one of these !! or these !!!. One exclamation point is all that’s ever needed, if even that.


  2. Barbara Blackcinder September 26, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Very funny, and then I wandered into the Victor Borge videos after the punctuation video. Great,


  3. Jane Watson September 26, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    I really do love this post…

    I have to admit I am also a big fan of the ellipsis… what I want my ellipses to do is to suggest to the reader that more deep thought is continuing on here in the mind of the writer…. even if it is not, rofl…or perhaps I want the reader to stop and imagine all the other possibilities contained in that sentence. Either way I often find closure difficult…lol.

    And who would have thought that email’s call sign began in a wine merchant’s shop in the 16th century – a long and short sound by Victor Borge, here :)


    • Alexander M Zoltai September 26, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      Jane, I usually understand you quite well but “And who would have thought that email’s call sign began in a wine merchant’s shop in the 16th century – a long and short sound by Victor Borge, here :)” is throwing me for a loop—explication??


  4. Jane Watson September 26, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    LOL, sorry, clearly my desire to celebrate @ this blog after reading the info@ one of the links you gave about the possible origins of the symbol ‘@’ was poorly expressed. I was inspired to write this loopy sentence because of the explanation @ The Atlantic which contained a quote from the Smithsonian Magazine @ about the fascinating and possible first use of the symbol, ‘@”:

    “…The first documented use was in 1536, in a letter by Francesco Lapi, a Florentine merchant, who used @ to denote units of wine called amphorae, which were shipped in large clay jars…”

    And this so amused me I had to end with an ! by Victor Borge …:-)

    Please contact me @ my address if you still wish to know where I am still @ with this post…:-):-)


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