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May 12 2006

Punctuation Alert

Any comment containing an ellipsis will be held henceforth in the moderation queue pending review of the aesthetic exigency of the construction’s application (in each case, not in general).

Coming soon: what’s to be done with the Anti-Capitalites?

107 comments

2 pings

  1. alphabitch

    I applaud your principled stance on this issue. A line has to be drawn somewhere, and this is as good a place as any. It’s not as if you haven’t been clear about this from the very start.

  2. norbizness

    Good Lord, I’m fucked. But semicolon and I aren’t on speaking terms!

  3. Ellasgrannie

    Crap. It is a bad habit. Now, I must immediately start an Ellipsis Anonymous group. Oh, bother.

  4. robin

    Me too! Like norbizness, I’m done for. Since reading Twisty’s blog I’ve become aware of how badly I’m addicted to the damn things. I wallow in them.
    On a different note, has anyone been reading about those awful “purity balls” where young girls pledge their commitment to virginity until marriage?
    The vows are made to the so-called “high priest of the household”, aka their daddy. The vows state they will stay virginal until given into the arms of their future husband.
    These grotesque shams are actually taking place all over this country. It sickens me to no end.

  5. Ellasgrannie

    No change that to Ellipsisaholics Anonymous. Crykees!

  6. JoeB

    Thank you for helping eliminate this blight on our lingual landscape. I assume comments will be quickly posted if the ellipsis is used to shorten or completely distort a quote.

  7. robin

    I don’t know how to link, but go check out this article:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2006/05/12/notes051206.DTL&hw=mark morford&sn=001&sc=1000

    Twisty, please eviscerate these for us pls!

  8. Ellasgrannie

    I have seen the horrors of the virginity cult. I teach bio-ethics and I saw lots of high school students who were involved. Oh my!

    It is quite sick.

  9. MzNicky

    Thank you, Twisty, for your brave stand against this insidious threat to our nation’s punctuational security. My inner grammarian salutes you.

  10. perinteger

    You mean these creepy events, robin? I was surprised to find out that unmarried girls have no identity outside their daddies. I’m glad that I was enlightened, now I understand why girls must be treated like property. FSM knows what these poor girls would do without daddy’s identity to control, I mean guide, their lives.

  11. schatze

    Can somebody refresh my memory on the role of the patriarchy in the proliferation of ellipses? I’m foggy it due to the auditory assault of: like, you know and really.

    Really, really foggy, like, you know?

  12. Ani

    I’ve got some ellipsis-watching to do, too. I’ll have to rely on my good friends, the dashes, to help me out.

    JoeB–thanks for the inspiration. Coupled with brackets, ellipses sure can make distortion fun! :

    Thank you for [t]his blight on our lingual landscape. [My] ass … will be … completely distort[ed].

    How heinously sweet. Is this what it feels like to be part of the patriarchy?

  13. Sasha

    Is there to be no quarter for those who color them in red as a PMS warning?

  14. Betsy

    I don’t know, I tend to think virginity has some value as one of the variants of being man-free. And it has a useful corresponding result in the other direction, of course: men not having access to women.

    Which is more delightful, women not needing or wanting a man, or men needing and wanting women and not having them?

  15. Ellasgrannie

    Is it sort of like a pregnant pause, thereby being solely a product of the patriarchy?

    Personally, I use them because I am hyper and I need something to type while I think. Dots, seem a nice was to connect one thought to another that may or may not be a complete sentence.

    Grammar as oppression?

  16. Vibrating Liz

    The only thing worse than incorrect use of the ellipsis by anybody who’s not Herb Caen is making the damn things out of commas.

  17. CarolS

    God, how this blog amuses me.

  18. wolfa

    At least — at least! — we still are allowed dashes. They are — alas — poor compensation for we who carefully choose to put ellipses in almost every sentence — but I will carry on, daunted but not broken — at least, not yet.

  19. Arianna

    If I’m not mistaken, Purity Balls have already been covered. I may, however, be mistaken, as I read altogether too many blogs and I know that at least Pandagon, Feministe and Digby have covered them.

  20. Kerlyssa

    Purity Pledges/jewelery have been covered. I didn’t know there were Purity Balls. Am I the only one who immediately thought of a male chastity belt upon reading that phrase?

  21. Twisty

    “Grammar as oppression?”

    No! No! No! It is precisely the opposite. A treatise will follow today or tomorrow or the next, but until then: punctuation facilitates communication. It’s hard enough trying to make sense of what people write on the internet without having to watch them trail doofily off into nothingness at every turn.

    Of course, those who believe that the ellipsis is the foundation of their expressive finesse, though they suffer from tragic delusions, are nevertheless encouraged to ellipse from not-quite-here to eternity. It’s no skin off my nose. It’s just that these experiments ought to be undertaken elsewhere. If this blog is to be a repository for half-baked ruminations, they’re going to be my half-baked ruminations, dammit.

  22. kathy a

    i have myself refrained from using ellipsis since discovering they are but a tool of the patriarchy. the comments about them being the written equivalent of a head-tilt did me in.

    but please, don’t send me to moderation hell for failing to capitalize! I can type with Capitals if Necessary, and do so all the time for work and other formal writing. i am old and crotchety, and have eschewed capitalization for informal writing since i was a wee little feminist.

    enforced conformity is oppressive. besides, it slows me down.

  23. Rebecca

    I’m so taken with this that it’s inspired me to de-lurk for the first time. As a frustrated grammarian myself who, I now realize to my shame, has recently become overly dependent on the ellipsis, I applaud Twisty for drawing this line in the sand.

    The ellipsis is, in fact, a tool of the patriarchy in that it allows/encourages us not to take responsibility for finishing our thoughts, explicitly drawing warranted conclusions, and the like. Reason and argumentation are on our side, fellow blamers; thus we must resist all that undermines them. All hail Twisty!

  24. Metta

    Where’s bell hooks when you need her?

  25. BCollie49

    “A line has to be drawn somewhere.” Yes, draw the line and not the ellipsis. The ellipsis is like one purity ball after another after another. Definitely a tool of the patriarchy.

  26. MzNicky

    [Ahem.] May I point out that I took the liberty of addressing the Ellipsis Scourge here in these very pages last week.

  27. Pony

    You didn’t think virginity pledges excluded Daddums did you?

  28. Edith

    Oh, what the fuck ever to the whole “virginity is overrated” nonsense. No, you know what’s overrated? Compulsive, mandatory fucking in order to be thought of a “liberated” woman.

    Hey, fine, nothing wrong with fucking. But as far as I know, women having sex with men has never destroyed any patriarchy. Bet the male “liberal” writer of that article doesn’t want to explore that one. Just a guess.

  29. Joanna

    And yet:
    http://english.utb.edu/drodrigues/amlit/denman.htm

  30. nancy73

    Hello. I am an ellipseaholic. It comes from too much Seinfeld, I imagine. I blame Seinfeld and the Patriarchy!

  31. Edith

    0h and Twisty, I really, really, really hope you don’t have any problems with commas. And redundancy. And parallel structure. And fragments.

  32. Jodie

    AIEEEE!!!! Oh, no! Cold turkey! Please, please, Twisty, don’t take away my em dash — or I will have to scream some more!

  33. Ellasgrannie

    Twisty,

    Have no fear. I am a repentant ellipsaholic. I swear. I have seen the light my sista.

    As to half-baked ruminations, I think I may have to relocate if they are to be banned. LOL

    Your point about the internet is well taken, and it is my firm belief that all keyboards should have automated emoticons installed for free and use very little mega or gigabytes so as to facilitate, well emotional expression.

    Many a post and poster have been misunderstood the world over because the words they typed did not convey the correct mood of the poster.

  34. Ellasgrannie

    Oh, and just to clarify, I am on board with the correct usage of capital letters. Ellasgranpa drives me positively bonkers by not ever, ever using the shift key. He either types everything in caps or he uses all lower case letters.

    However, I used to have a boyfriend who was quite intelligent who loved to write notes using all letters and numbers, but not spelling any words out, e.g. using B4 for before, and so on. It did create quite the puzzle.

  35. feminist first

    Thanks Twisty,

    Until today, I didn’t know what ellipses were and as a bonus I’ve also learnt the spelling of it in plural.

  36. Joanna

    I responded to Twisty’s command about the same way my 11-year old daughter does to mine (defiance) and damned if she isn’t still holding my comment!
    So here is an ellipse-free version:
    What would Emily D have to say?
    Here’s a very lit critty article on punctuation and gender in her poetry. Ignore the commands after the title; they’re for some students.

    http://english.utb.edu/drodrigues/amlit/denman.htm

  37. Pony

    ay luv fulen rown wit lngwj. Lngwystks rkz.

    changing my addy to those dots.

  38. Sam

    Fun factoid: women use ellipses far more often than men do.

    I think I may use ellipses more than I normally would just because of that, but there’s a difference between occasional improper use for effect and constant overuse becasue you’re a terrible writer.

  39. bornfamous

    Virginity pledges have little staying power, research finds, but the study is sure to be royally debunked by the patriarchy.

  40. Puffin

    Twisty, I believe they prefer to be called, “anti-capitalites.”

  41. mel

    Oh, but I DO love ellipses. They always make me think something delightfully devilish has occurred just out of my grasp, if I could but reach it. In my very first post here, only a week or two ago, I used an ellipsis AND an emoticon. I immediately apologized and flogged myself for the emoticon, but I was clueless about the vile nature of the ellipsis–such a crafty creature it is! After duly flogging myself emoticon-wise, someone made a crack about my ellipsis. I had no idea what she or he was talking about and consigned it to having had more than one glass of wine, and not even the cheap, pink, fizzy stuff Twisty drinks out of cans. I am not an oldbie here, after all. But now I know. Actually, the whole “ellipsis as head tilt” got me thinking too.

    And aside from head tilts and smiling ingratiatingly, does anyone have any more tips on what I MIGHT be doing out in public that marks me with a scarlet letter “A” as being a toy of the patriarchy? Have mercy on a 40-something-old bag, please.

  42. jenofiniquity

    Shoot, Twisty, now that you’ve made yourself so clear I’m afraid that an ellipsis is just going to slip out, like a giggle at a funeral.

  43. Kate

    Good god, if I had saved myself for my husband, I would have thought five minutes in mission style was an exceptionally good lay. Well, so much for being a good girl. Like Eve who bit the apple, my awareness caused me much pain, regret and longing during my long eight years of bondage.

    And yes, I agree with you Edith on some level, but fact is, women are sexual beings and can actually like to get a screw here and there. Problem is indeed, that the patriarchy has designed the screw as the domain of the man and therefore, nary a woman goes around bragging that she ‘just used him for sex’. Sort of an oxymoron. An exception might be a forty year old woman with a twenty something and even then I think people would have a hard time envisioning a sex crazed older woman placing a naive nubile youngster under her spell. Not to say it can’t be done, just that people would down a shit-burger first than ponder such.

    I remember a really good english teacher I had when I went to a private school for a year before I was thrown out. She taught me more about writing than any public school ever could have. Some things did stick.

    - never start a sentence with ‘and’
    - use only active verbs (verb tense understanding mandatory)
    - no dangling whatever I can’t remember
    - no run-on sentences
    - no ellipses or exclamation points

    The last could turn her into a seeping stew of rage, her white hair setting off her red face and giving her a look like some kind of other worldly God of Linguistics. Oh yes, Mrs. Cantrell, where are you now? In the Elusian Fields I presume, chasing e.e. cummings with a worn school-issue paperback copy of Homer?

  44. CafeSiren

    Twisty,

    Can we declare war on scare quotes as well? I just posted something to another entry on this same blog, and realized that I had used them as a reflex when they were in no way appropriate to the post. I am ashamed.

  45. ae

    The only thing worse than incorrect use of the ellipsis by anybody who’s not Herb Caen is making the damn things out of commas.

    Right on, Vibrating Liz. Comma ellipses are like cheese graters across the eyes. Ha.

  46. scratchy888

    An exception might be a forty year old woman with a twenty something and even then I think people would have a hard time envisioning a sex crazed older woman placing a naive nubile youngster under her spell. Not to say it can’t be done, just that people would down a shit-burger first than ponder such.

    I’m sure it’s done a lot. It’s just that there’s a gap between what is done and what is believed to be done. That is the nature of ideology, actually. It falsifies reality to make it seem consistent with some simplistic principles — purportedly those “of life”.

  47. scratchy888

    - no dangling whatever I can’t remember

    testicles?

  48. mrs_enid

    Apostrophe abuse is the real enemy. Any talk of ellipsis abuse is a red herring and a smokescreen.

  49. Kate

    Scratchy: Could have been, but I think it was something about precipices or something or other. My now blue-collar small business low income life has me restricted to dealing mostly with those whose only danglers indeed fall between the legs.

    I must confess also that it wasn’t a private school I attended for that wonderful year, but a public school in a high income suburb of St. Louis that had just as much money as one and ran like one. In the local public schools I was a fuck-off flunkee, I was shipped across the river to clayton, Mo as a private tuition student and lo and behold! The girl thinks and gets nearly straight high marks.

    Said school experience changed forever my perception of education and cemented my conclusion that much of the problem in this country stems from pathetic public education, for which I blame the oppressive, greed driven heirarchy of the patriarchy.

  50. witchy-woo

    I love this blog.

  51. Pony

    Your blog rocks too witchy-woo. I visited last night. Ok. Last MIDDLE of the night. You should get some kind of award for transcribing that talk. Gak.

  52. scratchy888

    Said school experience changed forever my perception of education and cemented my conclusion that much of the problem in this country stems from pathetic public education, for which I blame the oppressive, greed driven heirarchy of the patriarchy.

    It’s generally like Althusser has said: The system replicates itself by educated each and every one only up to the level that is considered necessary for them to do their particular jobs. Thus the wide and deep entrenchment of ignorance.

  53. MzNicky

    mrs. enid: I must disagree. Incorrect use of the apostrophe indicates a sad, fundamental failure to understand very basic language construction with regard to possessives, letter omission, and, especially in the oppressive dictates of the AP Stylebook, the plurals of numerals and other stuff.

    Ellipsis abuse, on the other hand, far from being, as you label it, a “red herring and a smokescreen” (and setting aside for the moment your coming dangerously close to mixing a metaphor, although, by the way, have you ever had smoked herring?), is a very psychologically laden lapse of punctuational judgment with which patriarchy blamers have good reason to be concerned. As has been pointed out by others, the ellipsis is the written equivalent of the sideways glance, the coy demurring, the uncertain maiden sinking into the fainting couch and depending upon the kindness of strangers to rescue her from her half-formed thought. A pox upon it, and I adore Twisty even more than before, if such is possible, for calling ellipsis abusers on their abominable habit.

    God, I need a life.

  54. Mandos

    Fine, fine, I’ll just substitute “meaningfully trails off”.

  55. jennifer

    Kate – I think you mean participles. Although damn if I can remember what they are. Maybe Lynne Truss can write a book about those.

  56. scratchy888

    Kate – I think you mean participles. Although damn if I can remember what they are. Maybe Lynne Truss can write a book about those.

    NO, I think she was right to begin with. Beware of precipices.

  57. thebewilderness

    There is a charming book that explains many punctuation questions.
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/104-8498435-1498349?_encoding=UTF8&search-type=ss&index=stripbooks:relevance-above&field-keywords=eats shoots & leaves

    Eats, Shoots & Leaves
    Wouldn’t you know the public schools would give up teaching grammar just as the internets achieved lift off. It’s no wonder the young onions type things like b4. The poor blighters haven’t a clue.

  58. darkymac

    Ahhh.
    Grammar and style; a topic guaranteed to provide room for the most exquisite ironies.

    I was prompted by the thread title to reach for our host’s most excellent article along just these lines.

    And the comments have come up trumps along the lines of Twisty’s observation in that article, that the probability of committing a usage error while explaining a usage error is 1.

    Not having any firmly held opinions on usage, except to know that I prefer what I can understand without falling asleep before I’ve finished it, I’ll refrain from picking the plums from the comments here and rather point out the fun that could have been had in the abovementioned archived essay with the plural forms of “mango”.

    Which is more pleasant to read?

    One looks like a Greek island and the other – the start of a joke.

    I anticipate the anti-Capitalite exposition with a couple of tinnies and a cold chook.

  59. MzNicky

    Damn! Where’d my brilliant rejoinder to mrs. enid regarding apostrophes and ellipses go? Ah, fuck it.

  60. tuckova

    I don’t capitalize in my informal writing. I do for work always, and for comments generally. I feel that not capitalizing is the written equivalent of wearing sweats: it doesn’t impress anybody, but it’s comfortable. I think it’s reasonable to request that people follow your rules when they want your attention; I also think it’s reasonable to understand that some people prefer to do things differently on their own time. I think it’s good that you require your commenters to follow standard rules of grammar and punctuation, because it promotes a higher level of discourse, or at least has the potential to promote it. I like that you state your rules up front, rather than not and then be offended when people break them.

  61. Pony

    Language evolves. So does punctuation. And there are many “languages” in English. That’s why it’s the lingua franca of the modern world. If it didn’t, and wasn’t, you’d still be speaking and writing the way they did in the mid-19th century when your ancestors paddle up the Potomac, slipped into Ellis Island, and massacred the Beothuk on the shores of Newfoundland. English is a bastard language with rules grammar and syntax borrowed from everywhere, including a lot of latin rules bashed onto anglo saxon. So when you hold up some kind of purity for English, you’re off on the wrong track.

    It’s good to know the rules of the language you need for the group you want to mobey around in. It’s also good to know what language is and isn’t. What it is not is a weapon.

    Don’t be a language imperialists. Many people in the world don’t want to speak 19th century English or American, especially for what it says about English and American imperialism, any more than they want our television, our capitalism, or our “democracy”.

    I love dialect, creoles and speak one (kinda badly). They tell a story.

    Re caps and not caps: Think e.e. cummings.

  62. maarmie

    Oops. I didn’t know about the rule. I promise I’ll watch myself in the future.

  63. Ellasgrannie

    Just a thought. Mary Daly has excellent punctuation. However, until you have heard her speak in person, you cannot imagine what an impish sort she is. Her writing comes across as strident, but in person, she comes off as in on the joke of her take on patriarchal language and practice.

  64. Pony

    When she was young and learning to express herself, people deified formal written language. As she developed her career she also developed a less formal langauge for the give and take of feminist engagements.

    Some people want us to always apply the tenents of formal written English to every communication. That’s dumb. But there are still some people who use language to impose heirarchy among people. I’m nice you’re not.

    Language is FREE. It’s like art, music and literature.

  65. ProcrastinatingABD

    Kate,
    “no dangling whatever I can’t remember”

    Alas, you speak of the openly obnoxious dangling modifier.

  66. Chris Clarke

    Further, because they are obnoxious and confusing, language experts frown on the use of misplaced modifiers of all kinds.

  67. Betsy

    ooh Mary Daly reference ooh.

  68. Pony

    I can’t resist. This may be the last time you hear from me. But oh well here goes.

    “If the correct phrase “Kudos is due the Microsoft employees” grates on your delicate ears, cut the verb, or better yet, eliminate the kudos altogether. In American English, the word has a very dorky feel, is tepid in tone, and, by evoking a cheap candy bar, fails to convey the ardor and gravitas appropriate to the occasion. Thus, “We lavish praise on the Microsoft employees.”

    Not only that, my GRADE THREE teacher has us repeat, among the many little grammar mantras she had us chant: ONLY TRAINS ARE DUE. So that’s another reason to use “lavish praise” in the above example instead of “due”.

    Goodbye everyone. It’s been nice posting here.

  69. maarmie

    I have to agree with Pony to some extent. I love love love a well-worded sentence and correct punctuation and spelling. But I don’t think you should discriminate based on it and, in effect, use your preferences as a weapon against readers who don’t share those preferences. In short, lighten up!

  70. Dixie

    Kill the King not to fear is good.

    I stand with Twisty. Use language–including punctuation–to clarify! Down with the coy head tilt!

    (You all understand why I hope all the punctuation in that link is exact.)

  71. Pinko Punko

    Hmmmm.

  72. Pinko Punko

    Booyaa!

    I’m shootin’ em out like laser beams! Psssew! Psssew! [cue Rush's Tom Sawyer]

    The ellipsoid bandit strikes again!

  73. Smiler

    Kate – I think you mean participles. Although damn if I can remember what they are.

    [De-lurking.]

    I think I’m right in saying that participles are verb forms ending in -ing.

    A dangling one appears in sentences like this:

    Having de-lurked in a moment of mad bravery, the post should at least have been interesting.

    The point is that the participle “having (de-lurked)” doesn’t have a subject. There is no person who has de-lurked identified in the rest of the sentence. The participle thus dangles, unattached.

    Like me – but I digress, resisting as I go the urge to put an ellipsis after “like me”.

    The correct sentence should read something like this:

    Having de-lurked in a moment of mad bravery, she should at least have posted something interesting.

    In the second sentence the person who has de-lurked is identified, the participle attaches to the subject “she” and dangles no longer.

    I think I’m right, but if I’m wrong and someone corrects me then, as always on this blog, I will have learned something.

    [Re-lurking before something bad happens.]

  74. Twisty

    All these stinkin rules! Twisty’s cramping my style! She’s squeezing the life out of my brilliant prose! My unique message to the world will be obscured, my genius thwarted, my right to self-expression at any cost denied! Oh the humanity!

  75. Twisty

    In the first example above, “having de-lurked” is a participial phrase, and it does indeed modify a subject: “the post.” In the second example, it modifies the subject “she.” Both are grammatically correct. However, the first sentence asserts that posts are capable of de-lurking, which is a skill one doesn’t normally associate with them; this may make it seem incorrect, but in fact it is merely nonsensical.

    Prepositions are what dangle.

  76. la Beylita

    Your strings of commas, your dangling modifiers, your awkward verb conjugations; none of these are as painful as the ellipsis followed by a question mark posted in response as a none too subtle negation.

  77. Pony

    Semi-colon fault.

  78. Pony

    Didn’t you mean “Oh the inhumanity!”?

    Oh shit. I hate it when you’re smarter all the time including when you’ve just been barbecued.

  79. Sara

    I won’t get involved in the rightness or wrongness of suspending rules of grammar or even good taste in favor of personal style, nor of the relative madness or sanity of attempting to impose blanket standards on casual visitors wishing to participate in the general blaming, visitors who may or may not speak English as a first language and who may or may not be prevented from achieving sophisticated discourse for a variety of other reasons including but not limited to physical handicaps, slow typing speeds, dyslexia, a poor education even in English, and the like. I would like to point out, though, that by implementing filters of the kind you have described you may be inviting grammar martyrs and encouraging attention seekers of the basest type. There are people in the world, you know, who will throw ellipses into their text for the express purpose of forcing you personally to read their comments, no matter how unintelligible or inane, a fate you might otherwise take pleasure in escaping. Without the filter trapping and holding certain types of writing for you to review before allowing it to go forth onto the web beneath your masthead, you can sit back and skim almost everything people post here, if you want to, never spending too much time or getting too involved. With the filter trapping and holding ever increasing examples of bad writing, you will have more to wade through and disdain in detail.

    I jest, naturally, at least in part. It’s your blog, your time and space to spend as you choose, and it is also true that some of us exhibit obnoxious, admittedly frequently childish writing habits which the hard-to-bridle enthusiasm your own writing sparks coupled with stringent time constraints in our own lives make it difficult for us to control from time to time. However, in seeking to make the world, or at least your world, a better, more grammatical place, I just hope you don’t complicate things so much that it’s not even fun for you anymore. I’d be sad if wading through filtered material ultimately became so onerous for you that you ended up burning out altogether on blogging and thus ceased to post your delicious food reviews intermixed with the incisive and often hilarious venting of your poor, overburdened spleen. To my mind, that would be a tragedy greater than any overused ellipsis or capitalization error.

  80. Pony

    Wow Sara. What is it called when you throw out a thesis against something and then proceed to exemplify it? I know there’s a name for it. Anyway. Best example I’ve seen in some time.

  81. Dixie

    Hey, many modifiers may be misplaced or may dangle.

    Walking to my car, a hundred dollar bill lay on the sidewalk. (dangling participle)

    While bouncing, the trampoline’s springs squeaked under the child. (misplaced participle)

    We wanted to buy a workbench for my uncle with three legs. (misplaced prepositional phrase)

    Hopefully, the water bill won’t be over twenty dollars. (dangling adverb)

    I found a dangler that cracked me up in an old romance novel–the author and the proofreader both should hang their heads: “Thrusting into her passionately, his delight mounted.”

  82. Pony

    Dixie

    I disagree. One sentence like that can save an otherwise turgid read.

  83. Dixie

    When I read your disagreement, Pony, I could not help ejaculating, “Ha!”

  84. MzNicky

    What’s to be done with anti-Capitalites? I recommend Capital punishment.

    As with the wretchedly misused ellipsis, egregious lower-casing is simply passive-aggressive language abuse. Like you just can’t take the time to put your precious pinky over there on the fucking shift key already. You’re not e.e. cummings, or even bell hooks. Give me a break.

    A colleague in grad school insisted upon lower-casing her name and even claimed hooks stole the idea from her. Yeah. Whatever. Anyway, after about a year of getting no responses to her many job applications, someone finally suggested that perhaps not capitalizing her name on her resume might be a factor. Being the clueless pretentious fuck that she is, she spurned such sensible advice, and last I heard is still looking for a job. Teaching journalism and creative writing, mind you. I rest my case.

  85. Kate

    MzNicky sez: and setting aside for the moment your coming dangerously close to mixing a metaphor, although, by the way, have you ever had smoked herring?)”

    >

    Scratchy: “NO, I think she was right to begin with. Beware of precipices.”

    >

    Indeed beware the long fall off the grammatical cliff and the possibility that your participles may dangle precariously below your modifiers and lo to those weighed down with prepositions; you will find no linking verbs to save you out there!

    And thank you Twisty and Smiley for your elucidating the dangler. When I wrote those ‘rules’ I remembered I did indeed think that the dangler in question was the preposition, but I wasn’t too sure. OO! OO! An ellipsis moment fell upon me there and I almost did it! I almost committed the sin of allowing someone else to complete my thought in whatever way they wished.

    Pony, your observation of language I agree with in a general context, but the love of language as I know it involves the effort to find the best and most complete means of expression in writing possible. The rules help that along.

    Of course, I am one who diagrammed extra sentences for fun. That year I learned also that doing something you obviously enjoy isn’t going to pass as credit worthy sacrifice for work not completed previously.

  86. kathy a

    I can type with capitals. I do not abhor capitals in formal writing. Capital punishment is not funny to me.

    but, here i am in my jammies, as usual, and i mean no disrespect with my very long-time habit of just typing with no caps, for informal purposes. i assume no one here is looking to hire me. i further assume that my odd comments will not sway anyone here to change the essence of their being. have some tacos.

    In my public life, capitalization is necessary. Please do not make it so here.

  87. darkymac

    Chris Clarke gets my absolutely unmodified top mark.
    Double play and irony.
    What more could a reader ask?

  88. Pinko Punko

    [enter the ellipsoid bandit, stage right] Where the patriarchy at?

    That’s a double dangle. Not only is it dangling [banded pauses, ellipses, then resumes] it’s unnecessary.[poof, the ellipsoind bandit flies into the night, with bwahas, etc.]

  89. darkymac

    Howdy kathy a,

    I got to the end of your first paragraph and then I got lost on a featureless plain with no guideposts to keep me on your road.
    So I skipped the middle paragraph and trust that no world-shattering ideas were lost to me.

    I don’t have any regrets about it because I’m sure you want it that way.

  90. hedonistic

    It often strikes me how upper-middle class affectations find their origins in Victoriana. This makes sense, since Victorian times invented the middle class in Western civilization.

    So, anytime you see folks clinging to “proper” English, use of the “proper” fork, etc., just think, Victoriana! How quaint! Aspiring to higher classes! So middle class!! HAHAHAHAH!!!!

    I oughta know, because it’s my class too, and I do it all the time. Guilty as charged!

    I shall henceforth watch my language, becaue I just LURVE me Twisty’s Victorian sensibilities, even if she might not see them as such.

  91. Twisty

    My dear Hedo, how adorably patronizing of you.

  92. Chris Clarke

    I am afraid, my esteemed Twisty, that the initially uncapitalized hedonistic has an irrefutable point. It is in fact the case that a fetishized regard for grammatical niceties is the exclusive province of the privileged classes. Those of us whose origins are found in the less-privileged classes uniformly speak in ungrammatical grunts, using air quotes wrongly as intensifiers rather than to signify irony or direct quotation. In fact, most of us actually mis-spelll most words even in spoken English. I do not know how we accomplish this rather astounding feat: One would think spelling irrelevant to spoken language, but we benighted, baroquely locutioned non-Victorian and improper masses manage it nonetheless.

    Look at it this way. Would you ever catch James Baldwin paying fetishistic attention to grammar? Frederick Douglass? Nelson Mandela? Isabel Allende?

    And thus hedonistic is correct, in fact every bit as correct as those late-1960s college-educated Marxist splinter group members who decided that in order to communicate effectively with the workers, they needed to don blue collars and Caterpillar gimme-caps, drink beer to excess, and chatter in grunts and squeaks about professional sports while beating their spouses. Hedonistic* is merely trying her best, from her lofty position of privilege, to communicate with those of us unfortunate creatures who were denied the finishing school experience. And for that you call her “patronizing”?

    For shame, madam. For shame.

    Sincerely Yours,
    the undersigned.

    *I apologize, hedonistic, for departing from your preferred orthography, but ignorant as I am of upper-middle-class ways, I was unsure as to the proper course of action to take when an uncapitalized proper noun begins a sentence. Perhaps you will be so kind as to share your wisdom with me out of a sense of nobless oblige.

  93. Pony

    Isn’t it *noblesse* oblige? And while you’re handing out kudos: It’s mine ya dork. Above.

    Although I’ll willingly share it with a fur bearing creature like the Hed.

  94. hedonistic

    (giggle snort!) I was laughing the whole time I wrote that. I am also the frustrated English-professor type, given to occasional rants against the use of “irregardless.”

    (Good one, Chris; I’ll capitalize the H if it will make everyone feel better.)

  95. whyme63

    I must know, Twisty. How do you feel about interrobangs!?

  96. hedonistic

    Wait. Hedonistic isn’t my proper name; it’s just an adjective that describes me. There shall be no capitalization of mere adjectives. Humph!

  97. thebewilderness

    Criminilly poops, I love you guys. Ye are choking me.

  98. Mags

    Proper spelling, grammar and punctuation are much like good manners: they help us to avoid confusion and enhance how we understand one another. You may feel personally inconvenienced by capitalisation and thank-you notes, but those who read your words will be appreciative of your consideration on both counts.

    Also, feeling safe in the company of geeks, I’d like to quietly point out that the middle class of the western world rose out of the effects of the bubonic plague in the fourteenth century.

    Chris Clarke, I could so make out with you. I haven’t chuckled like this since your remark about Bea Arthur and the timeshare. Hee!

  99. Chris Clarke

    Isn’t it *noblesse* oblige?

  100. Chris Clarke

    hmm. half my comment disappeared. Musta munged the HTML.

    Anyhow, you’re right, Pony, but my favorite typo in my snit was the extra L in mis-spelled.

  101. Pony

    Never mind your els. Answer MAGS. pant pant.

  102. hedonistic

    Oh and Chris, I never claimed, as you stated so eloquently, that the “fetishized regard for grammatical niceties is the exclusive province of the privileged classes.” I said it was middle class (unless you call middle class “priveleged?”).

    In any case the I’ve noticed the upper classes – royalty excepted – generally couldn’t give two shits about protocol (spelling, grammar, or which fork to use), as they generally have nothing to aspire to. I also find they tend to be the worst spellers and punctuators of all (may I present Exhibit A: GW Bush?).

    But enough of that. I’m just killing time at midnight while trying to keep my cats from killing each other.

  103. Chris Clarke

    Actually, h., you said upper middle. But point taken on the rich.

  104. hedonistic

    Upper middle is still middle! The middle class is charicterized by it’s striving to self-improve via aesthetics (language, manner, dress, lifestyle). It’s a beautiful thing, really, because it makes life so much more (resist the ellipsis! resist! resist!) pleasing. The upper-middles just have more $$$ and leisure time to indulge.

    The ultimate upper-middle-class writer: In my opinion, Edith Wharton. Seems some of the best American novels are about upper-middles bonking their heads against the glass ceiling that separates them from the uppers, or about their anxieties about losing their places within the middle-class heirarchy. In these stories, aesthetic considerations rule!

  105. hedonistic

    shoot. where’s the spell check? LOL!

  106. rumblelizard

    Has anyone else here been following the dust-up with this deeply effed-up “NYMOM” character over at Pandagon? Apparently, according to NYMOM, the reason more men are getting custody of children when families split up is because feminism exists, or that feminists are in league with MRAs, or something. I’m not sure exactly what the wackytroll’s argument is, because she keeps on using ellipses so hideously and so profusely that it makes me tear my eyeballs out before I can figure out what she’s saying.

    I think all blogs with comments should take a page from Twisty’s manual and subject comments with ellipses to moderation.

  107. TL

    Hello!

    Having been sent into oblivion by the google-arse I subsequentally arrived here.

    I intend setting April’s challenge on a particular writer’s forum. Subject being; The Maid, The Mother and The Crone. Each part to be written in a different tense. first person, second person and third person no specific order, but they all must link.

    My stumbling efforts to source background material managed to place me on this blog (for some obscure reason). I humbly apologise for my interruption but I find your blog tremendously delightful. (never knew these things existed). I couldn’t help listening to your discussions regarding ellipsis (I hate being a lurker, although I hate to be an uninvited party also). I agree with most of you but I do have a tendency to use the omnipotent ellipsis, not overly mind you, just enough to leave the reader in a state of expectation. To be able to follow the thread in their own miniscule minds to their own conclusions, promises.

    That said, I have no compunctions as to whether the ellipsis is matriarchal or patriarchal. As Sam posted: Fun factoid: women use ellipses far more often than men do. My mind is set.

    My thanks for your perserverance.

    TL

  1. Feminist Law Professors » Blog Archive » The “blog” of “unnecessary” quotation marks

    [...] See also I Blame The Patriachy for a “Punctuation Alert.” [...]

  2. » If Google Embraced Evil - First Person Perfect

    [...] I’m gradually learning the codes for various special characters. My most-used are apostrophe, quotation marks, ellipsis, en space and em dash. Left and right angle brackets occasionally. Use of ellipses has been more sparing since Twisty came down on them hard. [...]

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