Na­tional Punc­tu­a­tion Day and its ‘of­fi­cial’ meat­loaf

North Penn Life - - Sportsroundup -

I’m not sure how, but I com­pletely missed Na­tional Punc­tu­a­tion Day.

There’s ac­tu­ally a Na­tional Punc­tu­a­tion Day? I can’t be­lieve I missed it! Now that I know, maybe I can cel­e­brate the next one; I’d bet­ter put it in my cal­en­dar book im­me­di­ately or … there will be heck to pay (next year).

Oddly enough, I was just talk­ing about cap­i­tal­iza­tion and punc­tu­a­tion at a fam­ily din­ner the day be­fore. (That should give you an idea how ex­cit­ing some of our fam­ily dinners have be­come.)

With the pop­u­lar­ity of tex­ting and Twit­ter these days, brevity has be­come nor­mal in our com­mu­ni­ca­tions with each other. We text the let­ter “U” to mean the word “you,” the let­ter “R” for the word “are” and the nu­meral “4” to rep­re­sent the word “for.”

But as an ed­i­tor and writer, I refuse to par­tic­i­pate in this lazy spell­ing, cap­i­tal­iza­tion and punc­tu­a­tion tom­fool­ery. In each and ev­ery text or tweet, I write com­plete sen­tences, use proper cap­i­tal­iza­tion and punc­tu­ate ev­ery sen­tence. And I do it all de­spite hav­ing fat thumbs that make tap­ping only one let­ter at a time on my phone nearly im­pos­si­ble. So there is a fair amount of edit­ing also re­quired on my brevity.

But I was heart­ened to dis­cover the ex­is­tence of Na­tional Punc­tu­a­tion Day — on Twit­ter of all places — and sur­prised to learn that it has been cel­e­brated for the past nine years.

I’m not sure what one does to cel­e­brate Na­tional Punc­tu­a­tion Day, but draw­ing at­ten­tion to the colon might be one pos­si­bil­ity. I be­lieve one way to do that could be with a colonoscopy, al­though some may con­sider that a bit dras­tic in this in­stance, and right­fully so I sup­pose.

Ac­cord­ing to the web­site www.na­tion­alpunc­tu­a­tion­day.com, NPD is, “A cel­e­bra­tion of the lowly comma, cor­rectly used quo­ta­tion marks, and other proper uses of pe­ri­ods, semi­colons and the ever-mys­te­ri­ous el­lip­sis.”

The web­site cor­rectly points out that an el­lip­sis is not when the moon moves in front of the sun but it re­veals noth­ing about whether a semi­colon is half a colonoscopy.

There ap­pear to be 13 pri­mary punc­tu­a­tion marks rec­og­nized on Na­tional Punc­tu­a­tion Day, in­clud­ing the apos­tro­phe, brack­ets, colon, comma, dash, el­lip­sis, ex­cla­ma­tion point, hy­phen, paren­the­ses, pe­riod, ques­tion mark, quo­ta­tion mark and semi­colon. (The fam­ily dinners at Punc­tu­a­tion Cen­tral must be a big­ger hoot than our fam­ily dinners.)

I was also pleased to learn that Na­tional Punc­tu­a­tion Day has a de­signDWHG “RI­fiFLDO PHDWORDI,” and why not. Noth­ing urges peo­ple to “prac­tice proper punc­tu­a­tion” like “meat­loaf.” (By the way, Na­tional Meat­loaf Ap­pre­ci­a­tion Day is sched­uled for Oct. 18, so you won’t want to let that one slip by ei­ther. Strangely, though, the meat­loaf peo­ple don’t DSSHDU WR KDYH Dn “RI­fiFLDO” punc­tu­a­tion mark. An over­sight, I’m sure.)

But the punc­tu­a­tion peo­ple are noth­ing if not aware, and it hasn’t es­caped the group’s hi­er­ar­chy that we’re smack-dab in the mid­dle of the silly po­lit­i­cal sea­son. So in the proper spirit of things, the NPD web­site is cel­e­brat­ing the 2012 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion by is­su­ing its view­ers a lit­er­ary chal­lenge: vote for your fa­vorite pres­i­den­tial punc­tu­a­tion mark in one highly punc­tu­ated para­graph.

Here are the rules listed on the web­site: No colonoscopy is re­quired (whew). “Write one para­graph with a max­i­mum of three sen­tences us­ing the 13 punc­tu­a­tion marks to ex­plain which should be ‘pres­i­den­tial,’ and why. vou may use a punc­tu­a­tion mark more than once and there is no word limit. In short, per­suade us that your fa­vorite punc­tu­a­tion mark should EH WKH RI­fiFLDO SunFWuDWLRn mark of the Pres­i­dent of the United States.”

This sounds sus­pi­ciously like home­work and only slightly less un­pleas­ant than the colonoscopy it­self. But I have no doubt that which­ever pres­i­den­tial can­di­date — Pres­i­dent Barack Obama or Gov. Mitt Rom­ney — adopts an “of­fi­cial” punc­tu­a­tion mark, that guy will im­me­di­ately jump ahead in all the polls.

The win­ner of the “Pres­i­den­tial Punc­tu­a­tion Con­test” will be awarded “a box of punc­tu­a­tion good­ies, in­clud­ing a Na­tional Punc­tu­a­tion Day T-shirt.” What, no meat­loaf to the win­ner? For­get it, I’m not play­ing.

But it’s good to know that some peo­ple out there are still cham­pi­oning good punc­tu­a­tion habits. I’d just like those folks to know that … U R gr8.

Mike Morsch is ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor of Mont­gomery Me­dia and au­thor of the book, “Danc­ing in My Un­der­wear: The Sound­track of My Life.” He can be reached by call­ing 215-542-0200, ext. 415 or by email at msquared35@ ya­hoo.com. This col­umn can also be found at www.mont­gomerynews.com.

Outta Left­field Mike Morsch

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