Discuss: New Punctuation Mark?


The English language is changing all the time. Some folks may not be comfortable with this change, but new technology-based words are making their way into the dictionary every year and the practice of texting has changed the face of the conventional sentence. Indeed, one could make the assertion that our language is changing at the same rate as our technology. As new devices are created for us to write with, the nature of our writing will undoubtedly change. Today’s discussion post focuses on one such technology-based change to the English language that was brought to my attention by the wonderful world of Boing Boing, and it has to do with the cordial email. And yes, I know that people text far more often than they email these days, but this could probably apply to those micro messages you type out with your thumbs as well.

On the Design Observer’s blog, Observatory, Rob Walker wrote an article about a new punctuation mark proposed to him by photographer Ellen Susan. The proposed mark can be seen in the upper right-hand corner of this blog post. To me, it kind of looks like two exclamation points have met in the middle, one turned upside-down on top of the other. According to Ellen, this new mark would signify “the emotional range between the just-the-facts period and the whoop-to-do excitability of the exclamation point.” Designed by Ellen herself, this would be called the ElRey Mark, a name which uses the Spanish words for “the king” in order to suggest “comfortable mastery of protocol and politesse, intertwined with a steadfast refusal to raise one’s voice unless something is on fire.”

When I first saw this headline on Boing Boing, I’ll admit that I quirked my eyebrow in a skeptical nature. What do we need another punctuation mark for, after all? But when I read Rob Walker’s blog post on the matter, I changed my mind instantly. Walker writes that this new mark would signal “a sort of general friendliness and baseline cheer” that one might find in a friendly email. I think this is the perfect application for this proposed new punctuation mark. I often find myself writing emails to co-workers in which exclamation points seem far too exciting and plain, old periods seem like I’m writing in a monotone voice of disinterest to them. The ElRey Mark would solve this problem!

So, what do you guys think? Is there room for a new punctuation mark? Is there a need for the ElRey Mark? Share your thoughts in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan


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