Submitted by BobH  •  April 18, 2011

Over-use of periods

Has anybody else noticed a trend in the over-use of periods? I’ve seen it a lot in advertizing and the like. I’m not talking about an elipsys (...), I’m referring to when periods are over used, so as to fragment a sentence, or used where perhaps bulleted words/sentances should be used. Periods are also over-used in the likes of phone numbers now where hyphens were once used, thus making it look something like a computer network IP address. (Dot Com revolution maybe? ...Don’t know.) Anyway, it just looks like pop cuture gimmicks--it just looks rediculous.

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... says the guy who uses "--" instead of an emdash, and spells ridiculous wrong.

11 votes Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

Hey Marlo, are ya gonna answer the question, or make stupid remarks? Your underwear isn't all that clean at the end of the day either!

9 votes Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

Welcome to English 001! Whatever you wish to do to the language, you may. If you can get a second person to agree with you...congratulations! You may stay after and clean the chalkboard erasers. (Believe it or not, that was a reward or treat when I was young.)

I also dislike the many and varied uses, but all I can do is what I prefer to do.

As far as marketing goes, I think it is just another way to try to get something to stick in your mind. Adding a period after each word appears to add emphasis as a reader sees each word and adds the normal sentence break.

Try reading:

And now you know.
vs.
And. Now. You. Know.

Both essentially convey the same meaning, but you assign more importance to the second version because you have been trained to think that way.

Of course, my next thought is about marketers, parentage, reproductive skills...

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Good point, Red. I can see where your example may be true with adding emphasis as so stated in your example. Though I believe there is a way to make the same emphasis using the proper rules in punctuation.

Example:
Instead of, "And. Now. You. Know.", portray it as "And--Now--You--Know!!!" (or something similar to this).

Eliminating any or all grammatical rules would only cause chaos. For example, cAn yoU IMAginE hoW iT woULd bE iF wE alL usE gRamMeR lIkE THIs? It's such a state of disarray and is completely disorganized. That's how it appears with our bastardizing proper grammar. It's the same with punctuation. It appears that society has too much disregard for proper regulation. This seems to be the case with proper grammar as well. Those are my thoughts anyway.

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As for periods in phone numbers, I know I've seen that usage as far back as the early 80s, possibly earlier, but definitely earlier than the Dot Com era.

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

Marlo, I also do that ( -- ) because my keyboard doesn't have an emdash. I always hope that its meaning (a break or shift in the sentence) is understood.

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I have to admit that I agree with BobH on the period abuse. It has also occurred to me that this was a new fad... and I don't like it one bit. I feel like I'm reading the prose of a manic writer, and it is utterly exhausting. Why do phrases have to be like video-clips? I can stand a few clips with their stroboscopic flow of images, but I when I read I expect to relax. Besides, I find it childish... if you cannot construct an appealing and well sounding phrase, do something else. Sheesh!

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It would be nice if the OP could provide examples of period overuse.

As for emdashes, the standard way of representing one, if all you use is plain ASCII text or a typewriter, is two hyphens--with no spaces on either side.

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Indeed a very good read! Very informative post with pretty good insight on all aspects of the topic! Will keep visiting in future too!

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@BobH,

I also agree that using periods adds emphasis, but I disagree that using dashes (as in your second sentence) adds the same emphasis. The first sentence has more of a calm emphasis while the second seems frenzied. I think it all comes down to a question of style.

As for periods in phone numbers, it could be a European thing. For example, in Germany, periods and commas are switched in all instances regarding numbers (they would say 14,7% while we would say 14.7%).

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Thanks to all for the feedback. After reading all the comments, it's obvious that others can see the trend toward this over use of periods.

One example of this is when I read an ad that was as follows: "Furrs. You like food. We like food."

It should been: "Furrs--You like food, We like food."

There's many other examples that just plain defy explanation. This is not the way it was taught in school; or maybe proper grammar doesn't matter anymore. That's the way it goes.

1 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

Isn't grammar separate from style, and aren't you talking about style, BobH? As I understand it, punctuation falls under the category of style.

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To BrockawayBaby

They go hand-in-hand. Try spell check with mispunctuation and see what happens. Yes, there are indeed rules in both grammer and punctuation. It is (or at least was) taught in school this way. (Or maybe our schooling is considered wrong or politically incorrect now...I don't know.)

Yes, to an extent, punctuation can be like a style; it can be good or bad...like a dress style, or manners. We could totally mess up our style of grammer and punctuation, and make it whatever we want; But, it doesn't necessarily mean it's correct.

Think about this: If you write a legal document, your going to make damn sure everything is correct--both grammer and punctuation. Obviously, we would want to follow the standard for proper punctuation for other things, such as advertising. Yes, there's times to be 'Silly' with the likes of advertising, and that's understood. But if/when that becomes the norm, then one has to wonder where the values are. At that point it becomes a form of 'dumbing down', which many may seem to think is OK. If that's the case, then let's just get rid of ALL the rules; it no longer matters. Let's get rid of dictionaries, spell check and all gramatical and punctuation rules....and let's get rid of this website too. On the otherhand, well, you can figure that out.

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I. s.a.y. w.e. d.o.n.t u.s.e. e.n.o.u.g.h. p.e.r.i.o.d.s. L.O.L. :)

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It is hypocritical to deride text used in advertising (a context that is renowned for breaking rules in order to attract attention) when you cannot spell in an online post in which you are trying to express your frustration with badly formed text and rally like-minded thinkers to your cause.

It would be appropriate for anyone who does over-use full-stops to respond to your indignation with "Your underwear isn't all that clean at the end of the day either!" Marlo may have only noticed a fraction of your literacy errors but pointing out your hypocrisy was appropriate. Your derision for him just demonstrates you cannot receive the criticism you are so enthusiastically dishing out.

For someone who endorses, "Try spell check" you should take your own advice and learn to spell "elipsys", "sentances", "rediculous", "grammer" by the rules.

Of course, you could take the stand that you can spell these words any way you like. But that undermines your entire argument since by that logic people can punctuate any way they like.

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For those who are sarcastically critical about my spelling, remember that this post was about 'Over-use of periods', OK? Thanks (I think) for reminding me that my spelling was a little off. Keep in mind that it was NOT intentional, just simply a mistake. It still got the message across. My misspelling does not invalidate the subject matter I posted.

Next time, try using some etiquette when addressing someone about an error and don't skew the subject. Let's not get into mudslinging - this is NOT a political forum.

0 vote Vote!  •  URL to this comment  •  Report Abuse

BobH, Shame on you for using logic and common sense on the the general public!

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the the....nice
(I hate when that happens.)

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"Shame on you for using logic and common sense on the general public"

Gee- what was I thinking! Ok, no more common sense. I'm throwing out all grammaticism I was taught in school.

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