National Punctuation Day and its ‘official’ meatloaf
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