Today is National Punctuation Day, further proof that there is indeed a day commemorating e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.  In addition to being a tribute to the grammar purists, today also brings attention to the evolving nature of punctuation.  As our methods of communication become less formal and more concise, the role of commas, periods and exclamations take on new roles as well.

Punctuation serves many purposes that were unheard of twenty years ago.  Parentheses and colons were the precursor to emoji icons: (-:  Of course the @ symbol has become ubiquitous in email addresses and Tweets rather than on store invoices.  The pound sign or number symbol has gained a new name as a hashtag to connote its prominence in social communication.  Excel gives special commands to the use of $ and the apostrophe.

I wonder what meaning punctuation will have in the future.  Will the % become the new identifier for the yet-to-be-invented app?  Will & signify a shortcut for communicating a whole new message?  Will the caret ^ perform a command and replace function keys?

Punctuation is one of those things that we take for granted, and ignore, until something goes awry.  If only for today, pay attention to those little symbols that are interspersed on your pages.  They are the road markers in the sentences of life, and you’d have a lot harder time navigating without them.

— beth triplett


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