A Field Guide to Common Punctuation.
Rarely at ease in its true habitat, the Yellow-Winged Apostrophe (YWA) is known to “peace out” of its obligation to indicate possession or contraction. Many, weakened by stress, fall to the bottom of pages, assuming the vague shape of Bullshit Footnotes (BF). Completely harmless, the YWA is among the least hardy of punctuation and commonly dies before the full life cycle of a single draft.
The Western Colon (WC), not to be confused with Two Bouncing Periods (TBP), attaches itself with rows of small, sharp teeth to lists. Originally from Western Canada, the WC has now established thriving colonies in all countries, having been inadvertently transported by way of cargo in large ships. Draws blood and gives headaches when overused. Known to flock alongside Overwrought Prose (OP).
Most commonly found in the papers of Students Trying to Look like They Know What the Fuck They’re Doing, the Greater Semicolon (GS) lays eggs in hundreds. The GS often enters into a symbiotic relationship with the Common Comma Splice (CCS). The size of a deer tick, the GS is also a carrier or Lyme disease. Flighty but typically harmless, the GS is most effectively removed with tweezers or red pen.
The Lesser Question Mark (LQM), a tertiary consumer, is most commonly found at the ends of sentences that are not actually questions. Example:
“A common theme in Animal Farm might be animals overthrowing humans”?
The LQM is a pest whose droppings promote the growth of the I-Literally-Just-Told-You-What-a-Comma-Splice-is Comma Splice. Traps available at Home Depot and most WalMart locations.
Drawn to the warmth of humor, the Long-Tailed Exclamation Point (LTEP) is known to breed sentence after sentence, producing offspring that weaken with each additional use. Eventually, if used with such abandon, the LTEP’s signature slender tail will fall, creating an Underused Period (UP). The LTEP is easily recognizable by its flagrant misuse and affinity for those purple flowers in your wife’s garden.
The most common of the genus ellipses, the Actual Ellipsis (AE) [not to be confused with “..,” the Moron’s Ellipses (ME)] finds regular use in correspondence meant to suggest a sense of impending doom, especially with regard to tasks that require urgent completion. Regularly partners with the parasite Comic Sans. Avoids the cold. Example:
“Sally, stop taking my yogurt from the work fridge…”
“Gina, stop sending me Anthrax in the mail…”
As of March 2013, the AE has been labeled an invasive species. All are welcome to poach, trade, or otherwise fuck around with these bastards before open season ends in late December, when someone will introduce the Rabid Comma Splice (RCS) in an effort to exterminate all AE, only to somehow make the problem much worse.
. . .
The Academic’s Ellipsis (AcE) is used by those who wish to demonstrate just how much more they know about how to use ellipses than you do.
The AcE is an endangered species in England and Australia. Action taken to harm or kill an AcE in these countries is punishable by three tardies equaling an absence, no excuses. The AcE has a small, hard barb at the end of its third mark, which is filled with the excess bitterness of adjunct faculty. The AcE stings like a mofo but is easily repelled by deer urine and lectures on Chaucer.
SUGGESTED READSA Guide to the Meaning and Usefulness of Punctuation Marks
by Elodie Olson-Coons (11/19/2012)
The Comma From Which My Heart Hangs
by Benjamin Samuel (12/27/2013)
List: Grammar Gossip
by Peter Kispert (8/12/2014)
RECENTLYI Feel Like NPR Doesn’t Like My New Radio Show Idea
by Dan Kennedy (4/24/2015)
How to Find Love: Lessons from an Old Maid: Letter to Adults Who Are Also Having Zero Sex
by Connie Sun (4/24/2015)
Open Letters: An Open Letter to the Former Owner of My Queen-Size Bed
by Catherine Tung (4/24/2015)