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#omg those IMing millennials are killing punctuation

There’s an article at the NY Times about David Crystal, “who has written more than 100 books on language and is a former master of original pronunciation at Shakespeare’s Globe theater in London,” who is claiming that the period is going to be extinct because texting millenials don’t use it.

That’s pretty much his argument. Obviously there’s a bit more finesse to his case, as it were–but not much more.

I’ve gotta say, I do dig how the Times article was published without the periods. So it adds a little ironic levity to what is otherwise a silly bit of baseless alarmism.

Social media messaging is a genre. A new genre. There’s nothing more to it than that. A genre has rules defining structure and style and grammar …and those rules typically remain only relevant within the borders of that genre. The genre of social media messaging, or IMing, recommends ignoring the period.

Does that mean all other forms of written communication will be expected to toss out that form of punctuation? No way.

It’s silly to think that the rules of a single genre are going to somehow translate to demands on every other genre so dramatically that a form of punctuation that is so commonplace that it’s in use by multiple cultures will simply be tossed out.

This is as nonsensical as literary snobs fretting that literary fiction is going to be somehow polluted by the demands placed on mainstream genre fiction.

Is it conceivable that the period could someday vanish? I guess so. There was a time when we had no punctuation, or even breaks between words. That was a time when the written language was extremely subservient to the oral tradition, and was written down only to be read aloud later.

However, the written eventually evolved to stand on its own as a unique form of communication and breaks between words and, later, modern punctuation became introduced to facilitate private reading. I can’t see us discarding more than 2,000 years of written rhetorical tradition. And the period is so common that it is used in multiple languages and cultures.

So to say that the period is going out the window essentially thanks to those damn western-culture millennials and their text messaging is incredibly #alarmist #petty and #silly

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