01 April 2018

Punctured Punctuation

by Leigh Lundin

➊ Commencing today, Tribune Publishing (which includes our local Orlando Sentinel) and Hearst Magazines (consisting of Cosmopolitan, Elle, Car & Driver, Redbook, and Woman’s Day) initiate a program of ‘punctuation reduction’, both as a cost reduction measure and a nod toward modernization in recognition of “cell phone exigencies of post-Millennial Generation Z.”
Happy Easter!

➋ In addition, a number of Tronc (Tribune On-line Communications) properties such as The New York Daily News, tabloids and magazines (including a revitalized Newsweek), will begin experimental use of emojis (aka 😀 emoticons) in limited sections of their publications such as editorials, letters to the editor, and personal ads.

Background

Punctuation reduction is nothing new. On the 1st of December 1896, The New-York Times removed its logo hyphen in a bid toward modernization, thus raising eyebrows among readers. Technically, a newspaper’s stylized heading is called a nameplate. Nameplate should not be confused with masthead, which contains owners’, editors’ and publishers’ names and disclosures.

nameplate– The New-York Times.

Again, on the 21st of February 1967, The Times removed its famed period (fullstop) from its nameplate. Often discussed in business courses, the newspaper gave two justifications. Once again it modernized the famous nameplate, and The Times’ finance department calculated it saved an inordinate gallonage of ink and a corresponding reduction in operating cost.

nameplate– The New York Times.

Hearst and Tribune plan to gradually reduce or even eliminate punctuation in ‘non-ambiguous contexts.’ The reduction will begin with Oxford commas, semicolons, double-quotes, and slowly advance, allowing older readers an opportunity to grow accustomed to the removal of punctuation at the end of paragraphs, much as occurs in present-day cell phone novels. Tribune publications expect to experiment with mid-paragraph sentence termination by using three spaces instead of periods. It is believed spaces combined with a following capitalized word will improve ‘literary flow’ and ‘rapidize comprehension’.

boy, girl
He Said, She Said

As reported a year and a half ago, the San Francisco Examiner, a Hearst publication, moved to add ‘non-binary’ gender pronouns to its reporting.

Historically, colleges have led the charge toward evolving language. The University of Michigan officially supports non-binary gender pronouns comprising such examples as ze, zie, zim, sir, miz, ve, ver, vis, ou, pers, and they (singular). ‘It’ (regarded fondly by fans of The Addams Family), once considered a potential pejorative, is becoming acceptable. (“The driver parked its truck.”)

Meanwhile, the disparaging word ‘woman’ knots the knickers in Mount Holyoke Women’s College:


Outside the US

‘Genderless’ pronouns, limited to the ‘American language’, aren’t expected to impact proper English spoken on other continents. Not so with punctuation reduction and emoticons. One need look no further than James Joyce, notably Molly Bloom’s soliloquy, 3684 words punctuated with two fullstops.

Likewise, Shakespeare himself seldom used periods, as seen in Hamlet’s monologue.

James Murdoch, son of publisher Rupert Murdoch, told the Sunday Times, “Amongst news producers and consumers, News Corp faces an existential crisis of credibility, not limited to The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and– especially acute here in Britain– News of the World. Our former MySpace asset demonstrated demographics of age 25 or less attach greater believability to modern, minimalist communication. We’re eyeing emoticons (emojis), sentence simplification and eradication of superfluous punctuation as a means of engaging younger Generation X & Y readers. Within ten years, what remains of the reading public will find punctuation peculiar and outdated.” Murdoch added, “The British public has largely forgotten the NotW perceived misstep, and we may relaunch it on-line through social media.”

What To Expect

Adapting J R R Tolkien’s The Hobbit from cell phone novel to the larger screen results in the following. We’ve taken the liberty of capitalizing proper names.

The Hobbit
The Hobbit
Excitable little fellow said Gandalf as they sat down again   Gets funny queer fits but he is one of the best one of the best—as fierce as a dragon in a pinch
If you have ever seen a dragon in a pinch you will realize that this was only poetical exaggeration applied to any hobbit even to Old Tooks greatgranduncle Bullroarer who was so HUGE for a hobbit that he could ride a horse   He charged the ranks of the goblins of Mount Gram in the Battle of the Green Fields and knocked their king Golfimbuls head clean off with a wooden club   it sailed a hundred yards through the air and went down a rabbit-hole and in this way the battle was won and the game of Golf invented at the same moment

Editorials

We can only imagine how an emoji op-ed might appear.
Dear Editor, Sir! I’m irate, nay, outraged. 😤 Your incompetent investigative reporting of pet psychics exemplifies the worst in fake news. ☹️ Medium Sylvia Greene predicted my Eric 🐠 would die and sure enough, within two years it floated belly-up in its bowl. So there!!! 😝
— A Disappointed Reader 😖😡🤬
Agony Columns

Likewise, what might personal advice columns look like?
Dear Prunella, The 😍❤️ darling of my life packed up his family and moved to Alaska. 💔😫 He always dishes out silly excuses: I’m nuts, I’m scary, he’s not attracted, he’s happily married. 😒 Also, I didn’t use a real knife🔪, more like a cleaver. 👿 Would it violate my restraining order if I snip off my ankle bracelet and move to Fairbanks? 🤔
— Most Definitely Not a Stalker 😭
Happy holiday, everyone! 🐣🐥

13 comments:

Leigh Lundin said...

Friends, kindly note (and forgive) the date of the post. Weird, though, when you realize this really could happen!

Larry W. Chavis said...

I was completely taken in. Good one.

Dixon Hill said...

LOL You got me, buddy! Good show!

Paul D. Marks said...

Leigh got me too. In fact, I wrote a whole long comment about it and then deleted it when I found out it was an April Fool's. But the fact that we all believe it can be true is scary as hell.

O'Neil De Noux said...

Now I'm really confused. Woke late. Read this without my first cup of coffee. Got coffee, read it again. Still confused but it's April Fool's Day isn't it? Isn't it?

janice law said...

I expect only the worst from an outfit with an ugly name like Tronc. Alas, they own our local paper too,

Steve Liskow said...

thiswasreallyfunnyandienjoyeditalotovermymorningcoffeandiwishicouldbeascreativeonasundaymorningiespeciallylikedthepseudohistoryandgraphicsthataddedtotheillusionthanksforstartingmydayoffwithabiglaugh

Art Taylor said...

Love it! Happy holiday!

Elizabeth said...

😵 💩 🤡
Very funny Leigh! I "almost" believed it. Hubby & I think The Hobbit is even more tiresome as a cellphone novel.

Eve Fisher said...

Loved it! Happy April Fool's and Happy Easter to all!

Leigh Lundin said...

Larry and Dixon, I’m pleased. Thank you.

Paul, you nailed the frightening part– it’s so close to true!

O’Neil… (laughing) I awake like that. Yes, it is April 1st!

Janice, Tronc is such a hideous name as to almost wreck the believability of the story. I even used small caps and a link to lend credence.

Steve, too funny. Thank you.

Art, happy holiday back to you and Tara!

Sharp eyes, Elizabeth! Love the emoticons, thanks! I think there was a nearly two decade gap between The Hobbit and the trilogy. My ADD stumbling block was The Silmarillion. I could NOT get started on that at all.

Jeff Baker said...

Love it!

Leigh Lundin said...

Eve and Jeff, thanks! And happy Easter to you!