• Mohana Prabhakar

Mickey Mouse must die

Perhaps influenced by just having found my copy of Lyn Truss’ Eats, Shoots and Leaves - a hilarious book on the trials and tribulations of incorrect punctuation – I must admit I’m utterly tired of copy that comes to me with ‘it’s and its’ and ‘we’re and were’ always in the wrong place. And this is an issue endemic to the whole world.

I have kept the following application given to me three years ago to remind myself that life can only get better from this point onwards: I have some holiday’s due to me, so can I take off for two weeks’ during Christmas. He obviously didn’t see the need for a question mark either.

But to move away from this sore point, I was thinking about punctuation coming to life. There are some people you meet who are essentially sentient exclamation marks. This type of person is found in abundance. “Ooh! What a bright day! Aah! How sweet of you! Hello! Yes! No! Wow! This sandwich has bread on both sides!” You get the drift.

Exclamation mark people in my mind are defined thus: overtly/overly emotional; and often, quite exhausting to be around over an extended period of time. The indiscriminate use of exclamation marks in writing, especially headlines, annoys me even more, but that’s another story. Most people who post a lot on social media belong to this group.

“I love you! You are the best! Lunch was awesome! Remember the sandwich we had! Bread! On both sides! Amazing!” And so on. I would like to mention here that after no exclamation marks in the last six months,

today’s column has used up the quota for the next decade.

My dad was all about colons, and I am still talking punctuation here. Sentences that seemed to have reached their natural conclusion rarely ended there. There was always a pause to introduce another interesting detail or two that further illustrated the original thought. The result: We finished his sentences and his stories, much to his annoyance. I still miss that every day.

Bureaucrats invariably fall in the square bracket category. Precision scores way above efficiency and extra [explanatory] words are always needed to clarify matters that do not really need more clarification [the action of making a statement or situation less confused and more comprehensible].

My last maid was a question mark. Did you put tomatoes in this, I’d ask. Why, can you taste tomatoes in it? Did the plumber come today? Was he supposed to come today?

No one stands out in my mind as more suited to being a comma than the once famous (or rather, infamous) Sarah Palin. Her unique and extravagant use of run-on sentences helped obfuscate rather than clarify any point that she was trying to make. It was a clever tactic because there was often no point at all.

This was vintage Palin on Paul Revere’s midnight ride: “He who warned, uh, the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, by ringing those bells, and um, makin’ sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be sure and we were going to be free, and we were going to be armed.”

And finally, the Saudi cleric and former diplomat, who said that Mickey Mouse must die because all mice are soldiers of Satan, is an obvious full stop.

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