A Few Salient Notes on the Point of Punctuation

Nail Punches and HammersWhat is the point of punctuation? When can we be sure our marks are correctly selected and placed, knowing our readers will often think otherwise! Or worse, won’t care :( `

No. Shouldn’t punctuation be like a trip to a good dentist who pulls your tooth but you don’t feel a thing? Later, you feel for the point of that missing tooth with your proofreading tongue. Say goodbye to sunflower seeds, those single quote marks that helped along slow reads at the center of summer late inning baseball games. (Who is you, by the way? – but we should save that issue for a later post, because it has nothing to do with punctuation, but with person.)

The narrator of J. D. Salinger’s Seymour – An Introduction [when do we place titles in italics or “surround them with quote marks” and omit italics?], Buddy Glass, one of Seymour’s brothers, offers his reader a punctuation gift:

“…this unpretentious bouquet of early-blooming parentheses (((( )))).”

But he then suggests the “bouquet” more accurately portrays his “bowlegged…state of mind and body….” Buddy speaks to you as if the general reader is a good old buddy, one who does not pack a red-pen mentality correcting as he goes like a noisy street sweeper the debris of punctuation through streets littered with pot holes and broken gutters with missing horse rings.

Salinger’s narrator’s bouquet has always suggested to me an Army sergeant at rest, as indeed J. D. was.

Is placing letters or words in italics a form of punctuation?

What is ` used for?

What are {/} {/} but no worries this is not a test but a post on punctuation.

From Adverbial Beach (by Joe Linker):

Gently the blousy wordiness finally quiet down not but up again and continually.

Usually superlatively long only this hour lately awake before four too early darkly to call this morning while lately too late to hope for a verbly sleep.

The apostrophe is a comma that evolved from the sea and learned to fly away. Bring an apostrophe down to earth and you’ve got a nice crowbar.

The best punctuation works like the nailing in a tongue and groove hardwood floor; you don’t see the nails. For side edged, top nailed floors, keep a nail punch and hammer close at hand for countersinking punctuation marks that will otherwise trip up readers dancing and sliding by in socks.

Punctuation is such a trip, hipsters in the 60’s used to say, but members of that particular generation of hipsters, pockets full of commas, are beginning to reach their final ellipses.


  1. BABS says:

    I go crazy for exclamation points! To the point of editing my own emails and taking out the !! cuz I think that is way to many !! How can I be so excited about so many sentences?! Sometimes, I just can’t stop myself!


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Joyce uses 27 !’s in the first few pages of Ulysses, so yr in good company, all in dialog though! Apparently, people exclaim! when they !speak! Naw! Not ’round hear-a!


  2. Excellent as always, Sir!


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Hey, Keith! Thanks for checking in. I suppose the heavy metal guitarist might be considered a punctuationist of sorts – ah, the tryanny of the fretboard! May the grace notes play on.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha! I just did one on how an umlaut shortage has deeply hurt the world of heavy metal. Personally, I think it’s one of the more diacritical articles I’ve worked on.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. bristlehound says:

    Punctuation, as used today, represents turning up for coffee dressed like arriving at a ball. All glitter and sell much the same as a 50% sale.
    My own punctuation leaves a little to be desired, but I also think that the quality of a book can be brought down because of too much.
    Nice one Joe.B


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Yes, punctuation like Emily Post etiquette, which side of the plate the fork should go on, conventional conventions, arrangements of chaos, rules for a straight road, but too many signs mar the view. Thx, B!~~~~~~~


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