September 8, 2011
As a former English guy (teacher, not Briton) I tend to be sensitive about grammar and punctuation, which is why I play fast and loose with it in my posts. You see, you have to know grammar in order to get away with screwing around with it. That is the difference between being an intellectual and being an idiot, but no one seems to agree which side of that divide I fall on.
At any rate, I get bugged when I see bad or ignorant use of the English language. So the other day I was looking up something online and I came across the website of radio station WFAN, New York’s pretentious sports talk station. They had a sidebar of reporter bios, and this one caught my eye.
Quotation marks are totally mis-used. How many times do you see signs that say We will be “closed” on Sunday? Did you wonder if maybe they will really be open on Sunday? You never use quotation marks for emphasis, you use it for direct quotes or, as is more fun, to cast doubt. Does Sweeny Murti really have insights? Or is it just some silly rambling nonsense? The quotation marks make me think the later.
Now I don’t even believe he is a reporter. Who is this Murti guy, some clown off the street?
But it isn’t just quotation marks that can be used to insult and cast aspersions. Take the question mark, for example. Start with this:And just add punctuation!
But if you insist on using quotation marks you can accomplish the same thing.
And here’s another one:
Yeah, “fan” my sweet Aunt Fanny. This guy isn’t a fan.
Go ahead, try it yourself! Now that you know how to use proper punctuation to insult, there is a whole new world of nasty out there for you. Enjoy!