21 December 2007

Stuff My Stocking With Punctuation',."!" (Please?)

I'm not one for self-editing. Recent scans through my personal E-mails, blog postings, thank you notes and grocery lists have lately revealed that I'm just plain bad at punctuation. Kind of makes me wonder if I slept all the way through my 6th grade grammar and punctuation class.
business general Vector Clipart picture
But... just because I don't know how to utilize punctuation doesn't mean I'm not affectionate toward it. Oh my, how I love punctuation. I love it like I love pepper. Just sprinkle a bit here and there and alacazaam!!! It instantly adds flavor, flair and spice to anything you're eating. Um, reading. (The Eats, Shoots and Leaves lady would have my head on a platter.) (And I know that I make many of you editors and writers occasionally cringe as well.) (You're welcome.)

If I were to rank my favorite forms of punctuation ....I'd have to vote for... the ellipse... so reminiscent of pepper... that it truly takes my breath away............. .... achoo ...... that's my breath... going ... away....

- the dash- although- I really have no clue about the difference between- an m--dash and an n-dash- and how---by the way-- are either of these different from the subtraction symbol- which is also good when you want to tell someone it's- well, below freezing- or perhaps that their bank account is now in the negative numbers--- ah, dashes--- we all love dashes!

and parentheses. They're so cool. (And I always have some kind of sidebar conversation I want to have that really doesn't pertain to what we're talking about.) (So I use a lot of parentheticals.) (And they also remind me of bookends. Keeping everything neat and contained on the shelf. Goodness knows I need a little order and containment around here.)

The other day the kids and I were reading poetry and I found this little gem. (This guy is better at pepper punctuation than I am!) (Truly impressive.)

So here's my stuffer for your grammatical stocking this year.

The Lesson
- John Ciardi

Of all the fleas that ever flew
(And flying fleas are rather few
((Because for proper flying you
(((Whether you are a flea or not)))
Need wings and things fleas have not got)) )--

(I make the further point that fleas
Are thick as these parentheses
((An illustration (((you'll agree)))
Both apt and pleasing to a flea)) ) --

Now then where were we? Let me see--
Ah, yes. --We said to fly you ought
(Whether you are a flea or not)
To have some wings (yes, at least two
((At least no less than two will do
(((And fleas have something less than one
((((One less, in fact (((((or, frankly, none)))))
((((((Which, as once more you will agree))))))
Limits the flying of a flea)))) ))) )) ).

And let me add that fleas that fly
Are known as Flears (You can see why.)

All I have said thus far is true.
(If it's not clear, that's up to you.
((You'll have to learn sometime, my dear,
That what is true may not be clear
(((While what is clear may not be true
((((And you'll be wiser when you do.)))) ))) )) )

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Blogger Roberta said...

Oh my lands!!! That poet is rather serious about parenthetical phrases, me thinks. That is a great poem. I like punctuation as well...didn't know this was called an ellipse...(danke!).

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

3:59 AM  
Blogger ChiliLady said...

Just wanted you to know – I love your blog! It’s very interesting, I love to read it!
Please visit mine (my everyday glamour) too, maybe we can link up? Take a look at it and leave me sum comments there, I would love to hear your opinion
Hope you’re okay,
Chililady from Austria
PS: sorry for this spamming, and merry x-mas!

7:19 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

you make me laugh!
are you, perhaps, german?

1:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Erin - I am known to utilize . . . umhmh, overutilize . . . the three very grammatical structures you mention, for precisely the reason you mention: I like to have several different lines of thought going on at once in everything I write! Unfortunately, a graduate school professor once praised me for my use of the parenthetical element, saying it shows a certain sophistication to be able to have these multi-layered conversations, and since then, I have considered that my license to use the dash, parentheses, and the ellipsis with abandon! LOVE this post and the poem.

6:39 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Love it! Very funny! :) And I think blogging encourages even more of this kind of punctuation flagrancy (or would that be vagrancy?!)

Hope your Christmas was healing and blessed though you all were surely grieving a bit this year. Love, LL.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Violet said...

Yes, I'm very fond of all those! Also the exclamation mark - see! I probably use the ... and a - the most. I should be able to tell you the differences between all those dashes but i can't remember it from typography class.

Very fun poem as well.

9:42 PM  

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