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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Exclamation Mark

A legitimate form of punctuation or a grammatical faux pas?

I have mixed feelings about the familiar dot and hovering straight line. I can compartmentalize my exclamation mark emotions into the professional and social settings.

In a social setting: I have a gender bias. When a guy uses an exclamation mark, I raise an eyebrow. When a girl doesn't use one, I think "wow, she is having a bad day." I try to use them sparingly, but with twitter, I find myself using a "!" at least once per 140 characters. Am I that excited? Am I really exclaiming something? Likely not, but sometimes a sentence just falls flat without a good ol' "!". Plus, everyone uses them so I don't want to be the girl that sounds angry, right? Apparently, I cave to exclamation mark pressure.

In a professional setting: This should go without say- No way Jose. As a newbie professional about to enter the workforce, I am fully aware that "!"s are a no-go. The only thing worse is a smiley face. I take that back. Use a winky face, and you might as well pack up your belongings and expect service of a sexual harassment complaint.

So just what is it about the "!"? (how is that for punctuation?) Are we texters/bloggers/tweeters/email & letter drafters just that much more excited than our predecessors or are we abusing the *shift + 1* key on our keyboards? Are you a victim of exclamation mark pressure?


Amanda said...

I admit, I probably overly use the "!" in my online ramblings. Sometimes, it seems like a sentence just doesn't "work" without it, regardless of whether I'm truly all "!" about whatever it is or not. And I agree, about the seeming angry. I worry about that too.

I never initiate an "!" or :) in my work communications (intraoffice) but frequently get them back from people. 8 months into this office, it's clearly acceptable via email (obviously never on work product though).

I almost ended this comment with a:
Thanks! :)
How's that for conditioning?

very married said...

I totally overuse it. In fact, i constantly feel like an angry person in the professional setting because I'm not using an exclamation point. Why am i so compelled to exclaim?

Anonymous said...

The exclamation "symbol" does get a lot of unnecessary hype these days....not even in the written form, either. I referred to it as an exclamation "mark" in a meeting and my previous boss was quick to say ... "it's actually an exclamation point." Soooooooo. I love this little entry Kat!!!!!!!! haa.

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