Friday, October 2, 2009

Happy National ! ; : ( ) ? . “ - … Day

By Danielle Salvato
Yes, you read it right. Last Thursday, September 24, marked the “6th annual National Punctuation Day.” Each year this day celebrates “the lowly comma, correctly used quotes and other proper uses of periods, semicolons and the ever-mysterious ellipsis.” The goal is to get people to pay attention to not only their p’s and q’s, but also their commas, semicolons and ellipses, parenthesis, apostrophes, exclamation points, dashes and hyphens.

Former newspaperman and copy editor, Jeff Rubin, founded the annual day and successfully bid for September 24 to be listed as a holiday in Chase’s Calendar of Events in 2004. Since then, the Web site has received worldwide coverage. Although the day came and went without a lot of notice this year, even among those working in the journalistic field. It is no wonder given the casual approach to punctuation these days. With Twitter, text messaging, Facebook and other forms of social media, people have taken liberties in forming their own casual dialogue and language, aka slang.

We can all do our part to keep the English language grammatically correct by taking the following vows:

“I will use the apostrophe to show possession, not to pluralize a word.”

“I will promise not to use the apostrophe to show possession in the word its.”

“I will not abuse the use of the exclamation point.”

“I will promise to always put periods inside of quotation marks.”

“I will promise to spell out numbers one through nine, and use figures for 10 and above.”

For questions, please refer to the Grammarians’ bible, “The AP Stylebook,” or test your punctuation skills by taking a quiz. If you are serious about changing your habits and keeping yourself grammatically correct, you can receive newsletters from the Grammar Girl, a friendly way to improve writing skills, every day with her “Quick and Dirty Tips.”

We will revisit this again next year and all take the vows together. Period.
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Anonymous said...

Can't believe I missed it! I wonder if this will inspire the KF staff to learn the correct use of the em dash? Ha!


Anonymous said...

I guess not, since Mr. Rubin uses the em dash incorrectly on his site! No spaces around it, sir.

I always liked the ellipsis...

Anonymous said...

Wish it was every day! Not sure whether it's some breakdown in education, the evolution to chat/text, or just speed of business and general laziness. There are loads of mistakes out there begging the red pen.

Julie said...

I’ve always fancied the semi-colon...