You Got Style
· Pointed Takes on Style Delineated ·
December 18, 2003
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· Mark, Mark, that Exclamation ·
I hope that since I posted last you haven't forgotten me! All this writing is tricky, especially during finals, and as I've had to lie low here after drafting a crafty holiday letter, I thought today to relieve myself of some unused energy! As you can see, I am trying!
And what should come to my aid but an old email from my sister! Yes — and here's how the lovely Stylesweet starts!
Well, I was intrigued and found myself taken, indeed, by Mark's style.
So what did I say? Only this:
Trimble has helpfully refined his take on exclamation points over the decades, particularly so in his twelfth chapter on "Punctuation" (2nd ed., 132):
Cool! Wow!! Bravissimo!!!
While I, too, am an admirer of Trimble — used his book for many years — I like Mark's spunk. His argument for more flexibility in exclamation use in e-mails and instant messages makes some sense, just as those forms often rely on the newer emoticons.
But I agree with Styles and Trimble that in carefully edited writing intended for broad circulation, less is more in the exclamation point department.
In Et Cetera, Et Cetera: Notes of a Word Watcher, Lewis Thomas prescribes what seems (pp. 140-41) a sensible regimen of restraint:
Does that mean, perhaps, "Buy American!"?
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