Friday, June 10, 2016


The New York Times reports on the linguist David Crystal’s contention that the period is going out of style. “We are at a momentous moment in the history of the full stop,” he says. “In an instant message, it is pretty obvious a sentence has come to an end, and none will have a full stop. So why use it?” The Times has, rather predictably, run the story without periods.

The period’s disappearance from text messages, and its occasional function therein as a marker of tone, are, I think, evidence that texting is more akin to speech than to writing. Different forms of discourse have different conventions. Telegrams lacked periods[stop] To-do lists, too, lack them, even when written as complete sentences:

Walk plants[.]
Water dog[.]
Reports of the period’s death are greatly exaggerated.

Related posts
All OCA punctuation posts
On “On the New Literacy”

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