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When is a Full Stop Not a Full Stop

English: Malevich. Black Circle

The full stop, neither funny nor affectionate. May also double as a menstrual cycle in America.

I have touched upon the topic of text speak in a post long gone, but it seems that my hatred for this savage mauling of the English language has far from mellowed with time and so it is that I would like to address two of my greatest pet peeves. Actually, what I would like to do is to stab a biro into the necks of all who commit these two lexiconographical  larcenies but a blog is further reaching and less likely to end in my incarceration.

I think it’s no secret from the frequency and volume of verbosity on this site each week that I’m rather fond of the written language and, like most of the people on my Twitter feed, I prefer written communication to a phone call, to the point that when my phone makes that odd ringing noise, it can send me scuttling under a large object to hide in the dark, like a cockroach running from the kitchen light. That said, written communication, blessed bearer of babble, is not entirely without fault.

For every heart lifting moment I get when I see a text or tweet pinging into my life, another comes along and chips away a little bit of my soul like a retarded stonemason. “Why?” you ask, is it all the dreaded spam and inane Facebook status updates regarding an ugly jam covered brat that causes me to die inside a little bit? No, it’s the fact that some of my nearest and dearest (and anyone else with access to a keyboard) think nothing of brutalising the English language to the point where it resembles an inbred hunchback with wonky eyes and webbed toes.

Aside from poor grammar and appalling spelling terrors (this is neither the time nor the place to go into all of those – we could be here for weeks with your/you’re, they’re/there/their, should’ve/should of, our/are, to/too, its/it’s I’ll/stop/now), there are some other written atrocities that I find hard to swallow and they both amount to this; the replacement of the full stop.

I’m sorry kids, I’m so not “down” with you. I will never “lol” at what you just said, nor will I “rofl”, ”pmsl” or “lmao”. If what I have said is funny, that will usually have been implied by the humorous content of my words. You may belly laugh to your heart’s content, you may snigger and chortle until you literally fall onto the floor and roll about, leaking urine until your buttocks fall off. You don’t need to tell me using 4 or less letters. You may, if so inclined, use the perfectly literate form of declaring your amusement with either the common Twitter response of “that was so funny I just spat my tea all over the computer” or in short “ha ha, good one”. When it comes to the immediacy of electronic communication and the overuse of acronyms, just because the method of delivery is disposable, doesn’t mean you have to treat the English language as such.

And so it has come to pass that my least favourite response to a humorous scenario has taken on a life of its own as a punctuation slayer. Using “lol” as the full stop at the end of something you have written, to denote that what paltry drivel you typed is in some way intending to be funny, is a complete contradiction of terms. If you have to tell me you’re funny, chances are you have all the ability to tickle my funny bone as a Jeremy Paxman presenting an investigative documentary into the systematic torture of encyclopaedias. If your words didn’t convey an air of comedic delight, replacing a perfectly functional punctuation mark with “lol” won’t do the trick either. In fact, if you do end a sentence with “lol”, I have no choice but to read everything you write in the voice of David Beckham.

Just a thought, based entirely on common sense and social awareness, but if you’re sending a message to someone you fear may take your joke in the wrong context and are therefore using “lol” in place of a full stop as a defensive measure, perhaps you shouldn’t be sending jokes to this person at all.

I think we’ll just skirt around the issue of people who actually say “lol” out loud in response to a witty remark. Hearing someone say “ell oh ell” or “loll” boils my bladder more than if I’d drunk a litre of molten lighter fluid. Megalolz.

I’ve been accused of being grumpy in my electronic communications (who, moi?!) and not because of the acerbic way in which I attack the subject matter and not because of my evermore creative use of profanities. No, it’s for one simple reason that I was totally unaware of until just a few years ago. I don’t leave kisses as a sign off. No matter how genial I’ve been in the tone of my writing, apparently the fact I don’t leave a series of little x’s across the bottom of the page means that I’ve somehow admitted to being in league with Beelzebub. It would seem that using a full stop instead of the letter ‘x’ is akin to wishing a plague of herpes upon the reader and all their offspring.

Let us look at the humble origins of the x-as-a-kiss (possible citation needed but this is my blog, I shall re-write history as I see fit. Deal with it).  It comes from a time when many people were illiterate and instead of signing ones name on documents, people without written skills would make their “mark” (a cross) and then, on really, really important contracts, to show they really, reeeeally meant to keep their word, they would kiss their “mark”. Hey presto, the x-as-a-kiss was born and my written correspondence was doomed to having all the friendliness of a wasp with a sawn off shotgun.

I’m not illiterate, I can write my name and so do not need to sign off with a cack-handed pair of crossed lines in place of my signature. I also do not feel the need to dole out bourgeois air kisses via the internet. What’s more, I would like to highlight the ridiculousness of this kissing in place of a full stop, and I shall demonstrate my point with a snippet of conversation between two friends via text:

(They’re imaginary friends so don’t worry too much about their names. You can give them some if you like. How about Bernard and Bernice? You can give them pets too if you want, maybe a budgerigar. How about jobs at the Post Office! Too much? Ok, back to my point)

Friend A: “I’ve been reading a really good blog recently x”

Friend B: “Me too. I’ve just been learning about cattle prods and biro related deaths xxx”

And so on…

Nothing odd about this, is there? Or is there… Let us now move these two text-tastic little chums from the land of cyber and put them face to face in a bar.

Friend A: “I’ve been reading a really good blog recently” *leans across table and kisses friend B*

Friend B: “Me too. I’ve just been learning about cattle prods and biro related deaths” *leans across table and kisses friend A three times*

I think we can all agree that this is just plain weird and a very long winded, energy-consuming way to carry out a basic social exchange.  If it’s ridiculous to dish out smooches after every uttered sentence face to face, why do we have to do it in written form? One of these serial e-kissers informed me that this plague of little x’s was like a cheery sign-off, a “polite” full stop. No, I’ll tell you what a polite full stop is, it’s a singular little dot after a written word to denote the ending of the sentence. A rude full stop would be me punching you in the face to stop you from reading.

I’ll admit, youthful abbreviations and overly affectionate sign-offs as punctuation are very minor crimes when you take into consideration the colourful and creative ways in which people bludgeon grammar and spelling into a paste of sodomised words (seriously, not enough time or space to go into that little muckheap), but is it too much to ask for the preservation of the humble full stop? I shall remain standing firm and proudly holding my ground, enjoying the finesse of the last few great e-mailers and the panache of those scant remaining wordketeers in my social media network who take pride in their verbose wittering. To all these brave, dwindling heroes, I blow kisses xxx lol

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About prettyfeetpoptoe

I live in London and have both my own legs so I am fortunate enough to get out and about on occasion. I form many views on the things that I see and do and love nothing better than a session of linguistic gymnastics in order to share these views.

26 responses »

  1. Thank you for setting the record straight about those blog endings. I thought I was out of touch to never use them, but feel inauthentic signing anything I’ve written with any of the symbols and abbreviations you mentioned.

    Coincidentally I am working on my next blog, which is about English expressions that especially irritate me. Tune in!

    Reply
    • You hold firm on the perfectly adequate blog endings that grammar and punctuation saw fit to bless you with!

      I’ll be sire to swing by for a look at what really irks you. Hopefully not everything I say will be on there…

      Reply
  2. Wonderfully funny and right on point! If I didn’t think an ‘lol’ would offend you (as it does me) I’d add it. Carry on writing…

    Reply
  3. “chips away a little bit of my soul like a retarded stonemason.” LOVED IT!
    My nod to hilarity is in fact “CMC” which is “Casi me calo”, much more appropriate if implied enjoyment is a necessary reply. Otherwise I would follow you into battle over each new case of Anguised English.
    BTW (oops) you never did address the joy of elipses…
    Regards, X….I mean Dan

    Reply
  4. As an American I take full responsibility for text speak…. You’re welcome… 😀

    Reply
  5. Wait, there’s an x thing happening? I am all-too-familiar with the LOLs and the LMFAOs and their ilk, but x? I had no idea. What’s next? Whenever I see an LOL or an LMFAO, I tend to directly challenge their typist. “Were you really laughing out loud? Because you’re sitting across from me and I didn’t hear you laugh.” “Really? Because your ass is still there.” These kinds of things.

    Nobody likes when I do that.

    Reply
    • Nobody likes it because you’re pointing out the fact they are an idiot and idiots always find that a total shock because they’re not clever enough to see it for themselves. Carry on as you are.

      Reply
  6. stephrogers

    I love you

    Reply
  7. I see that stephrogers has said, “I love you” and not with hearts and a smiley face.
    I have already told you that you are welcome to come live with me if Britain gets boring. Or, if I haven’t said it, I have thought is enough you should have known…nevermind…perhaps “lol” really stands for “laughing or lying”; that would make more sense to me.
    Scott

    Reply
    • There’s an urban myth about someone thinking “lol” meant lots of love and sent their friend a message saying “I heard about your mum dying lol”. Even if it isn’t true, it sums up the danger of “lol” beautifully.

      If this weather doesn’t improve, I just may take you up on the offer of a new home!

      Reply
  8. Ahhhh bless your soul. Let’s be honest, if there were more people in the world who understood grammar, punctuation and that ‘lol’ is a stupid, idiotic term, than the world would be a much kinder, happier place.

    Probably because less people are being attacked by biros.

    I still can’t get past the your/you’re thing. Does it count as a legitimate turn off, because I think it should.

    Reply
  9. Great post. I would love to see a post on the you’re/your, etc. My pet peeves.

    Reply
  10. Oh, dear. When you gave the “xx-ish” text-speak to real-time people having a conversation, it came across as code for *serious* foreplay. Cattle prods and biro-related deaths? Don’t tell me all that penetration imagery is accidental!

    Reply
  11. I have the reputation of not responding when I get text speak messages. But I do like the XXXXXs. That’s more than triple X!

    Reply
    • I once went onto someone’s Facebook status and my comment was just a collection of all the letters they had dropped. They didn’t get it but it entertained me no end.

      Reply

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