Sunday, April 13, 2008

Regarding Punctuation and Some Latin

You may be interested in an on-going discussion in the Helium Writer's Workshop about the overuse of commas. It has expanded into a conversation about how and why to punctuate in general. Rather than rehash my feelings on the matter, I'll just leave you the link.

I have a fresh example of the horrors that public forum posting can wreak on weak writers. A woman another writers' board began a paragraph with this:

“ie; articles that do not make sense”.

After I finished reconstructing my skull, its having exploded, I considered what i.e. meant, here. For those of you who are unaware, the abbreviation stands for the the Latin words “id est” and are translated as “that is”. “The bottom line, i.e. our profit margin, has been rising steadily.”

The abbreviation that this poster intended to use was RE: instead. Note the capitalization and the colon. Had she thought about it, she would (perhaps) have seen that writing out “regarding” (and starting her sentence with a capital letter) would have made her rant easier to read and more convincing.

We won't even address the insidious, apparently contagious, proliferation of the ellipsis. I see it taking over normal paragraphs, turning several sentences into loosely-connected garbage. I've been forced to institute a policy of ignoring all posts in which this problem appears. Not only am I unable to trust the opinions of someone who cannot grasp the most basic piece of punctuation, but my newly-reassembled skull needs to set for a few more weeks before I can expose it to that much stress.