It helps to be particular about punctuations - GulfToday

It helps to be particular about punctuations

Birjees Hussain

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.


The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

According to language experts the Z generation has a problem with punctuation, especially the full stop. The Z generation, Generation Z as they are commonly known, are those individuals who were born between the years 1995 and 2015.  Today these individuals would be between approximately 5 and 25 years old, and they think that a full stop at the end of a text message implies that the sender is angry!

I know that linguists claim the problem is specifically in relation to text messages and full stops but I still believe this generation has had a problem with punctuations in general, even when they are writing emails and reports. Moreover, their absurd problem has spilled over into many older generations’ language too. This is clearly evident from television scripts.

Back in the early 2000s right up until around 2010 when mobile phones did not have a Qwerty keyboard, avoiding punctuation and shortening words was more than understandable. We all avoided lengthy words and always created our own shorthand. “Great” became “gr8”, “Are you okay?” became “R u k?”, “I will be late” became “I’ll b l8”, along with a whole spate of other shorthand we developed to manage text messages.

That shorthand has now been adopted by the Twitter world. If you were an avid text messager back then the chances are that you’d feel right at home with the 160-character limit which you won’t see as a hindrance to putting your point across.

I would have thought that the introduction of a Qwerty keyboard on our smartphones, and with the added bonus of being able to swipe our finger across the board, sending lengthy and correctly punctuated messages would now be a breeze. After all, our phones even have text prediction so I don’t understand the issue with ridiculous shorthand and the lack of adequate punctuation.

Shorthand has become so absurd that sometimes people will type ‘k’ instead of ‘ok’. How hard is it to type the ‘O’? Moreover, instead of typing ‘the’ they’ll type ‘d’ or ‘N’ for ‘no and ‘Y’ for ‘yes’. Even single numerals have replaced certain words. For example, the number 4 has replaced the word ‘for’, 1 has replaced ‘one’, 2 has replaced ‘too’ and ‘to’, and 8 has replaced ‘ate’.

Before I emphasise the significance of punctuations, could I just make a point about full stops? To all those Generation Zers out there who think that the full stop implies anger, rest assured it does not; unless you liken it to slamming the phone down. In any case, it does not. Have you ever thought that the person who used the full stop at the end of the text might just be pedantic about punctuations?

I’m sure you know how important punctuations are, especially commas and where they’re placed in a sentence? Moving a comma to a different part of a sentence, or omitting it altogether, can alter its meaning altogether. For example, if someone says ‘let’s eat, grandma’, that means a grandchild is asking their grandma to ‘let’s eat’. On the other hand, omit the comma to, ‘let’s eat grandma’ and it reads like the grandchild wants to eat grandma.

To explore this point further, let’s suppose John sends us a message that says, ‘Coming tomorrow if possible will write tonight’. In fact this is the sort of garbled message people are sending to each other these days’; there’s no punctuation at all. What did John mean? This message could be interpreted in two ways depending upon where the punctuation is placed. It could be ‘Coming tomorrow if possible. Will write tonight.’ or ‘Coming tomorrow. If possible will write tonight.’ Without the correct punctuation we don’t actually know if John will be coming tomorrow or if he’ll send us an email.

Many people say that because Generation Zers are rather lazy they can’t be bothered to type full sentences or use the correct punctuation. I believe that this summation is partly true. The other part is that, I think, they really haven’t a clue where the punctuation actually goes and I’ve thought that since the late 90s when the UK education system changed so dramatically that everyone was breezing through exams and getting into universities.

Related articles