The Final Stop for the Full Stop?

Have you noticed you’ve stopped using a full-stop to end your sentences in text/IM? Have you ever received a message with a full-stop and thought, “that person must be pissed at me”? Are you sick and tired of rhetorical questions?

Ben Crair examined the issue of this recent punctuation innovation in an article for the New Republic:

This is an unlikely heel turn in linguistics. In most written language, the period is a neutral way to mark a pause or complete a thought; but digital communications are turning it into something more aggressive. “Not long ago, my 17-year-old son noted that many of my texts to him seemed excessively assertive or even harsh, because I routinely used a period at the end,” Mark Liberman, a professor of linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, told me by email. How and why did the period get so pissed off?

Via {daring fireball}.

How Grammar Affects Political Messaging

Cool article:

We discovered that altering nothing more than grammatical aspect in a message about a political candidate could affect impressions of that candidate’s past actions, and ultimately influence attitudes about whether he would be re-elected. Participants in our study read a passage about a fictitious politician named Mark Johnson…

The passage described Mark’s educational background, and reported some things he did while he was in office, including an affair with an assistant and hush money from a prominent constituent. Some participants read a sentence about actions framed with past progressive (was VERB+ing): “Last year, Mark was having an affair with his assistant and was taking money from a prominent constituent.” Others read a sentence about actions framed with simple past (VERB+ed): “Last year, Mark had an affair with his assistant and took money from a prominent constituent.” Everything else was the same.

Read the whole article, Framing Political Messages with Grammar and Metaphor {american scholar}, to learn how to tweak the past during your next political campaign.