Tuesday, May 15, 2007


White-Faced Woman With Elbow,
David Park ( 1911-1960),
oil on canvas.

Miss Bustlewhistle disapproved of them in composition. She thought them illbred and giddy. A purple crutch.

Of course, she didn't care for italics either.

According to Wikipedia, type setters had an even more vulgar word for them than screamers or bangs.

So I still avoid them in my WIPs. Early indoctrination, I suppose. Plus the fact they always make me think of the guard's head-gear at Buck House.

But have noticed they have crept into my blog comments.

In fact, I sometimes wonder if my comments will appear tepid and without enthusiasm if I omit them.

Others don't have the same inhibition against hyper-text, obviously - and they can be efficient, economical, expressive. Appropriate for the hit and flit nature of the internet.

I still don't care for emoticons. I don't understand them and don't really see them.

But exclamation marks?

Full thro!!le!


December Quinn said...

Lol I do that too! I cringe and feel silly if I use an exclamation point in my work, but I exclaim all over the internet like a loon!


Bernita said...

Emphatically, December!

Carla said...

There isn't really a contradiction, is there? Just different conventions in different circumstances. Blog comments are informal and so seem to suit exclamation marks and emoticons, whereas formal writing doesn't. Like chatting with a friend and a job interview are both conversations, but woe betide the person who treats them both the same.

Bernita said...

"but woe betide the person who treats them both the same."
My delicate point, Carla.

Robyn said...

I wonder if my use of italics is because I'm trying to really make sure you get it.

Perhaps I should trust people's intelligence a little more.

Bernita said...

I like italics, Robyn.

Charles Gramlich said...

The internet, especially blogging and yahoo grouping is more like a spoken conversation in many ways. And we all sort of fall back on conversational ways by using a lot of exclamation marks and such to try and convey facial express and hand motions.

Sam said...

Legions of exclamation points are tromping all over the blog!!

Maybe because it's so hard to use tone when blogging so we use punctuation. I think tone is vital to a blog comment.
Otherwise, how boring. How sleepy.
How utterly un-bloggerly!

Bernita said...

I think you've hit it, Charles and Sam.
Comments are viewed as audio, vocalized.

raine said...

I've gotten pretty addicted to the emoticons, I confess. :-O
However, I could live without them.

But when an editor once admonished me to eliminate 99.99% of my exclamation marks in a ms...

I tell ya, it was like pulling out my own fingernails!

Bonnie Calhoun said...

...love 'em all...use 'em all...too bad I haven't been able to get Blogger to give us emoticons for comments....yet

LOL...and my personal favorite, the ellipsis! :-)

Bernita said...

Like this, Raine?
"NO!!" she screamed. "What do you mean - remove them?"

Who needs yet another language, Bonnie?

You and Barbara Cartland.

Still, I'm rather glad to see some of the rigidity relaxed.

Anonymous said...

I suppose I'm just behind the times. I think I know what emoticons are, but I never found the site that explains them in detail, nor do I use them. I still have trouble with pig latin.

Bernita said...

I even find myself acrimonious about many acronyms, Steve. It's such an insider thing.
And I have two military kids.
Momma says "whoa! What's that mean?"

raine said...

Like this, Raine?
"NO!!" she screamed. "What do you mean - remove them?"

Just like that!

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I have a love/hate relationship with this punctuation

"blahdy blah blah...?"

Not sure if it's acceptable, but I have seen it in print. Something about bugs me, yet intrigues me just the same.

Emoticons...? (heh) No one really likes :) but it does remove the sting from teasing and sarcasm online.

spyscribbler said...

I have mixed feelings about italics. I mean, with our society on the 'net so much, don't we need some way to show the inflection of our voices? Isn't it interesting to visually hear the inflection of someone's voice?

Italics can make a point, break a point, annoy, or clarify. I use them far too much. (Along with: LOL)

LadyBronco said...

LoveLoveLove the painting!
It is very reminiscent of Picasso.

As far as emoticons are concerned - I don't use 'em, but I couldn't tell you why.

I guess you could say I'm ambivalent towards thew subject.

ScaramoucheX said...

Bernita Harris, I have decided that you are, for me, the Margaret Atwood of the blogging realm.
I owe you that much, to say so...
And always with the great illustrations - that's the only aspect of internet to print that I have come to detest, that I can't imagine adding pictures to my written work. I love putting up my pictures...

Bernita said...

!!!!, Raine!

Have seen it too, SS. It does accurately reflect the way a speaker's voice will trail away sometimes when asking a question.
Not sure it does: there are mean,sarcastic grins - if that's what it stands for.

Does appear derivative, doesn't it, Lady B? - but a good piece just the same.

That's a high compliment, Scary. Thank you.
Illustrations used to be a normal component of many novels. I would not be surprised to see them re-introduced more than occasionally.

kmfrontain said...

I have found that getting misunderstood on the net is very common, so I tend to use the basic emoticons. In formal writing, I don't believe in leaving a reader in doubt about whether someone is being emphatic or yelling, so I use the exclamation mark, because that's what it's for, and hell, many of the whiners that don't like it aren't bestselling fiction authors anyhow. I don't like the trend of following a "can't" bandwagon. I also use italics for emphasis if I truly feel a character would have emphasized, because how else is the reader to know it's that sort of character with that sort of mindset about that sentence structure? Can't think of any other easy way to show it. The only thing I don't like is this new tendency to combine !? at the end of a sentence that's part exclamation/question. It shows the writer doesn't know the rule. If the question is yelled, the exclamation mark will do.

I was smacked by an editor for my use of exclamation marks. She actually counted the number. I looked more closely at my use of them, discovered some could be removed, but definitely not all. Most often, I ended up with at least one exclamation mark in a paragraph that had excitement or yelling. Removing them all made the mood of the passage difficult to figure. Everything read monotone. As a reader, I don't appreciate monotone.

I will always be in disagreement with the type of editor that thinks to whittle exclamation marks down to a mere dozen in a 60k manuscript. Too silly.

Bernita said...

Certainly, Karen. Truly silly to edit by numbers, not purpose. And dialogue may demand both if iy is to reflect speech with any accuracy.
Trouble with emoticons for some of us is that their meaning seems to be fluid and not fixed.