Dec 9, 2009

The Bastardization of English Punctuation & Grammar

We’ve got a problem. All over this country, and the world too, kids are learning to read and write English with more bad and inaccurate influences than ever before. Due to the internet (blogs mostly), kids are now exposed to not only violent and sexual content, but poorly written content too. Until recently the most poorly written thing that a kid could get his hands on was a comic book, or maybe some P.E. Class Rules written by the basketball coach. The scary part is that a lot of the people writing on the web are of the age that they should have learned proper punctuation and grammar with few outside influences, yet they still can’t seem to get it right. Imagine how poorly the upcoming generations are going to write if they continue to read this crap. Have some self respect people.

Some want to save the whales. Some want to save the ta-tas. That’s all fine and dandy, but in the future, how will people make a statement about saving the whales and the rain forests if they don’t even possess the writing skills to produce a bumper sticker? That’s why I want to “Save the Written Word.” Let’s get started.

Quotation Marks
Place quotation marks before and after the exact words of a speaker or writer.

  • Greg said, "I drank with Edward today."
  • "No," replied Steve, "I’m cutting hair tomorrow."
  • "There’s a sale at Penny’s," he said.
Use quotation marks to enclose the names of television shows, short poems, essays, short stories, and chapters from books.

  • Everyone should read "The Communist Manifesto" by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
  • Sarah Palin’s "Going Rogue" makes great kindling for a fire.
  • David Hasselhoff was drunk on last night’s "America’s Got Talent."
Use quotation marks sparingly to emphasize sarcasm, irony, or humor. Avoid overuse of this technique; if the irony or humor is obvious, there is usually no need to highlight it with quotation marks.

  • He’s a "professional" mountain bike racer.
  • The Saturday "World Championships" finishes on Victoria Avenue, west of Washington Street in Riverside.
Exclamation Points
An exclamation point is used at the end of a sentence or after an interjection to show strong emotion or emphasis.

  • Exclamatory sentence: Mark crashed again!
  • Strong command: Cover that break or else!
  • Interjection: F-word!

Beware of overusing exclamation points. Using them too frequently makes them less meaningful. Don't use an exclamation mark unless you're certain it's necessary and never use two or three of them in a row:

  • The singletrack was awesome!!!
  • Don’t be ignorant!!!

Capital Letters

Capital letters should be used according to these rules.

Use a capital letter for the personal pronoun 'I':

  • Why can’t I drink beer inside Barnes & Noble

Use a capital letter to begin a sentence or to begin speech:

  • The man did two cyclocross races in one day. Then he threw up.

Use capital letters for many abbreviations and acronyms:

  • P.Y.T. or PYT (Pretty Young Thing)
  • T.S.O.L. or TSOL (True Sounds of Liberty)

Use a capital letter for days of the week, months of the year and holidays:

  • Monday, Tuesday
  • January, February
  • Christmas, Beverage Day

Use a capital letter for countries, languages, nationalities and religions:

  • China, France
  • Japanese, Spanglish
  • Christianity, Buddhism

Use a capital letter for people's names and titles:

  • William Shakespeare, Chad Ochocinco
  • Captain Kirk, Dr Kevorkian

Use a capital letter for trade-marks and names of companies and other organizations:

  • Stone Brewery Co.
  • BevMo!
  • Alcoholics Anonymous

Use a capital letter for places and monuments:

  • London, Paris, Colton
  • the White House, the Eiffel Tower, the Jerky Hut
  • St Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Loch Leven
  • Oxford Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, Mentone Boulevard
  • Asia, the Middle East, the Inland Empire

Use a capital letter for names of vehicles like ships, trains, bicycles and spacecraft:

  • the Titanic, the Starship Enterprise, the A-Team Van
  • Challenger 2, Sputnik, Madone, Mercedes, Yugo

Use capitals letters (sometimes!) for headings, titles of articles, books and newspaper headlines:

Bold Words

Bold words should be use to signify proper nouns, key points and significant messages. Do not over-use bold words unless the word is absolutely relevant.

  • When it comes to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV.
  • Never a poster boy for sobriety, Shane MacGowan was kicked out of the Pogues several years ago for his erratic behavior.
  • The next installment of Save the Written Word will concentrate on sentence structure and parts of speech.



Trish said...

Of note:
1. You put "Save the Written Word" in quotes - I believe this violates 2 rules: improper use of quotation marks and capitalization.

2. You put a exclamation point after "(sometimes!)". In my humble opinion, you violated your own rule regarding overuse of this type of punctuation. Oh, and I can use quotation marks in this case because I'm quoting your writing.

I'm just saying...

Matt Freeman: Dad, Writer, Pro Mountain Biker. said...

1. When I say "Save the Written Word" I always do that little quote thing with my fingers, thus the quotes. It's sarcasm dear.

It's also the name of a new organization I'm starting, thus the capitalization.

2. I deliberately placed an exclamation point after "sometimes" because I was placing emphasis on the fact that only sometimes should titles be capitalized.

I'm just saying...

Plus, my word is law.

Trish said...

Ha, ha!!! (Whoops.) ;-) Yes, I'll remember your superior writing status. I'm not very good at subordination, but anything for you... (At least, I'll let you think that!) :-)

steve-o said...

what is your measurement for a great writer sir? Would you say Award winning movie credits? A new york times best seller? Perhaps television screenwriting? Producing? All of the above are legitimate credentials from writers of comic books, who by your statement in the first paragraph, flood children with poor grammar and punctuation.

i said good day, sir.