After spending years trying to learn how to correctly use punctuation, we now find out that proper punctuation is not that good after all.
- Punctuation helps you deliver a clearer message in writing
- Text messages are a completely different form of communication with a different vocabulary
- Periods are losing their spot in favor of exclamation marks
We’ve all learned that commas and periods are essential in writing as means of making our message clearer to the reader. If they’re missing, things might get a bit mixed up but thankfully we now know the difference between “Let’s eat, grandma!” and “Let’s eat grandma!”
However, nowadays, most of the writing we are doing is actually typing or texting. And texting seems to demand a different ‘behavior’. People have stopped paying attention to grammar and punctuation, making this type of writing closer to speaking. However, if you take a closer look, you will see that an entire new vocabulary has developed through texting, vocabulary which includes emoticons and some ‘abbreviations’ such as “r u ok?”
On the other hand, punctuation doesn’t play a very important role in this type of communication. There are indeed people who are trying to use commas and periods and other punctuation signs either because they want to be grammatically correct, or because they feel that this is the way to make their message clearer.
Although punctuation can change the meaning of a message, it still doesn’t give it something that’s particularly important and that makes the difference between speaking and writing; that is the tone.
Texting is also referred to as a CMC method (computer-mediated communication). A team of researchers from the University of Binghamton led by Celia Klin made a study to find out how punctuation, with emphasis on the period, is perceived in this type of communication.
The study had 126 participants (all undergraduates) who exchanged texts or handwritten notes featuring an invitation and a brief reply. When the reply ended with a period, they were perceived as being less sincere than the ones which didn’t contain a period. Besides, the period seems unfriendly and even gives the receiver the impression that the sender might be upset.
But the period is only unfriendly in a text message. In the handwritten notes, they were perceived as merely punctuation signs used for ending a sentence. Therefore, as we’ve already mentioned, texting behaves differently than writing and this applies to punctuation as well. According to research exclamation marks could be more helpful than periods or no punctuation at all as they give the receiver an impression of sincerity.
All in all, we should start considering whether being grammatically correct still works in our favor or whether we are more likely to lose our friends because of an ‘insincere’ period.