What your punctuation (and writing style) “says” about you!
I was teasing my co-worker the other day, because I was reviewing some copy on our website, and it just had a ton of “em dashes” which she uses more than any other person I have ever met. (In fact, I never even knew what an em dash was, until “smart quotes” and html teamed up to drive me crazy.) So, while I was teasing her, I realized that most people and writers I know have their own punctuation quirks. I have realized that I have a love affair with parentheses (believe me, I go back after every blog post and re-phrase as many sentences as I can, and yet still – parentheses – and as I am writing this, I just realized I am writing in between a parathensis. Damnit! I am leaving it. In fact, I will not go back and edit any of my punctuation in this post.)
It got me started thinking about why, whenever I write, whether it’s professional or personal, I rely heavily on parentheticals to help me get my point across. And then it hit me, when I was writing my post about my lack of communication skills that I generally can’t keep my mind to one train of thought, so maybe I use my parantheses as an aside, in order to get people information that they may need, without breaking my train of thought? It’s pretty lazy, and shows some sort of lack of skill at organization and thinking clearly, but I still love them. So, my inability to focus may explain my constant clauses. I also wonder if its a way to get some sort of “insider” status. Like, for example, this is the text where I am explaining something (but don’t worry – between you and me, this is the “real deal” and my inner thoughts) and I want another voice to connect to the reader. I am some sort of scatterbrained Sybil.
So, if parantheses means I am insane, what do other people’s quirks mean about them? And I am not referring to bad grammar (although, I wonder if that has a meaning behind it as well?) In marketing, we often bold words on a webpage or communication, because we know people are skimming, and want them to get the main point. But I often notice people doing it on blog posts (myself included) and it drives me crazy. If I assume people are skimming, then why am I catering to that on a personal blog? It has no SEO value, but maybe it just helps to break up a wall of text? But if you are writing walls of text that aren’t interesting, why not focus more on that, then bolding keywords? (I just realized I am asking a lot of questions. Do I normally do this, or is the style of this post questioning? Or maybe I am just soliciting comments?)
Other people love “quoting for emphasis.” I wonder if these are the same people that use air quotes. Is this just a lazy way of calling attention to something without bolding? Could the sentence be constructed better without having to literally and physically set a word apart? There are those who love em and regular dashes – do they just not want to lose your attention, so they find a way to make non-run-on sentences? (Would they like my parantheses better?) I also tend to overuse exclamation points! It’s like I am channeling a 7th grade cheerleader and making sure I “speak with a smile!”
I am also not referring to common grammar mistakes (not typos) that drive me crazy, although I do wonder about why people make these mistakes to. I refuse to believe that 70% of the country called in sick the day we learned about possesive’s, and yet people like to put apostrophe’s at the end of every word that ends in “s”. It drive’s me crazy (although I still can’t entirely get my head around when to use its and it’s). But why people can’t figure out when to use the word for the numeral 2 and when two use the word that means “also” (man, I am so cracking me up with this paragraph).
Do you have a punctuation quirk? Does it say anything insightful about you?