Adventures in Punctuational Pet Peeves… (Part II)

After enjoying a lovely weekend, and breathing in the brisk September air, some of my tiradical tendencies have been whisked away like an autumn leaf. Nonetheless, I’m still going to wrap up my piece on the misuse of quotation marks. I’m sure both of my readers are thrilled.

For some unfortunate reason, a remarkably large segment of the population seems to think that quotation marks aren’t just for indicating reported speech or sarcasm anymore. Somewhere along the line, this unassuming, straightforward and highly functional piece of punctuation has been stripped of it’s crown of coherency and assigned to take over the roles of underlining, italicizing and large print to indicate emphasis. In a fit of indignation, I did a quick Google search looking for examples of misused quotation marks.

My search took me to this website which, as Jennifer pointed out in her comments on my last post, is a fantastic site dedicated to the indignities the poor quotation marks have suffered over the years and across the globe. Diving into that site, I found my way to Jocelyn Noveck’s article in the Washington Post on September 21, 2007. In that article, I discovered a fabulous quote that sums up my sentiments quite succinctly:

“I have a thing against overuse of quotations, period,” says [Pat] Hoy,
director of the expository writing program at New York University. “Whether
in academic or bureaucratic writing, it’s giving up responsibility for what
you’re writing. It’s a pushing aside of the responsibility to be the major
thinker in the piece.”

Bravo, Pat Hoy, Bravo!! Take note BBC correspondents! I implore you to step up and take responsibility for your writing! Throw down your useless, deceptive, misleading, annoying, random inverted commas. Cast off the chains of wishy-washy, pudding-brained, over-punctuated, wimposity!! (I can still make up my own words, since I’m not being paid to be a leader in maintaining high standards in the written word.)

Whew, have you ever noticed that when you’re on a roll, it’s easier to write with an impassioned indignation that you don’t really feel? In my head, when I see misused quotation marks, I think “Humph, that’s irritating”, but when I start writing, I suddenly find a dusty old soapbox to stand on, metaphorically shaking my fist at the sky.

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5 thoughts on “Adventures in Punctuational Pet Peeves… (Part II)

  1. I’m going to go grocery shopping, so if last weeks funny produce sign is still up, I’ll try and get a picture. It surprised me, because I can usually rely on the Independant for correct signage.

  2. Shucks. They fixed it. Last week, the sign read “Organic “Cantelope””. (Double quotes!) That got me wondering if un-organic can elope, and just what kind of sordid affairs are happening with the veggies.

  3. Hear, hear! Like you, J, I can easily slip into pompous soapbox ranteur when I get into the written word rather than what travels through my thoughts and usually from between my lips. It is quite a bit more entertaining though, isn’t it? And isn’t that part of what the soapbox orator should do?

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