I normally don’t work so late at night. But I’m giddy with excitement because Friday is National Punctuation Day. I’ll be lucky if I can fall asleep the next two nights.
I’m kind of a punctuation junkie. I have a good handle on when to use the semi-colon (rarely) or the exclamation point (even more rarely). I know my em-dash vs. my en-dash. And I excel in correctly placing the apostrophe and determining whether to stick an “s” after it.
So in honor of this most holy of days, here are four random observations about punctuation:
1) The en-dash is useless. The middle child — shorter than the beloved em-dash, longer than the industrious hyphen. Why do we need an en-dash to separate numbers when the hyphen would do just fine?
2) People have got to learn how to use the apostrophe. I mean, is it really that hard to understand you place it after rather than before the “s” when the subject is plural? I’m not saying everyone has to be a punctuation expert, but geez …
3) The hyphen confounds me. The Associated Press says to use it for compound modifiers. Sometimes, however, it feels like too much. As Bill Walsh asks on Blogslot: “What makes ‘law-abiding citizen’ obviously correct and, say, ‘law-enforcement officer’ pedantic and excessive?” Um … I’m not sure, but I know exactly what he means.
4) Hollywood is lazy. I’m far from the first to note that movie titles can be maddening. For example: Eat Pray Love — no commas? The book had them; why can’t the movie? Would people be less likely to buy a ticket if the title were properly punctuated? I don’t get it. And that’s one more reason why I’ll never cut it in Hollywood.
Anyway, here’s wishing you and yours a happy and memorable National Punctuation Day.