29 Aug Bang it out
The Exclamation Point. Sometimes called the exclamation mark. Without doubt, the most childish of all punctuation in the English Language.
We learn its use as children because we haven’t yet the vocabulary to communicate properly without it. It gives us excitement. It transcends passion. Unveils anger, love, joy, frustration, and yet, it really doesn’t do anything at all. A line and a dot.
In newsrooms, we call it a bang.
Put a bang on that subhed! Mainly because we’re on deadline and haven’t the few moments required for a thoughtful rewrite before a troop of union pressmen go on time and a half.
It’s a terrible crutch that should be expunged from the language forever.
J. J. Hagen, OSA. My professor and Augustinian literary confessor used to say it was a “theere, now!” With a limp-wristed swipe on the “theeere…” We lean on it just because we have not time or imagination or proper superlative to use. And the longer we drift into digital doldrum, the fewer characters we’re allowed to use. Words suck up too many of our precious 140.
Just spell it shorter! When it goes viral, no one will care.
It’s grammatical guvna (gÓwno – Polish for sh*t).
The bang makes us believe we’ve communicated with gusto when actually we’ve only shown ourselves weak.
A failed sentence. A weak expression in bold type.
Better to fail on the merit of an idea. Communicate with authenticity. The bang is a cheat. Fear not the fail.
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Samuel Beckett once said.
Use the words God and your teachers gave you. If you don’t have enough, pull the big red-covered book down off the top shelf and put it to work. Bang not, lest ye yourself be banged. And not in the good way.
Friends will review these words and welcome me to the curmudgeon’s cafe populated by the grammatical snob and literary elitist, but the truth is God gave us 26 letters and 14 pieces of punctuation, at least one of which should be eliminated forever or banished to the realms of greeting cards and comic strips.
A copywriter by trade, I’m trained and forced to use these “there nows” from time to time. I’m trying to adjust but failing.
We need to write well. With real words. And not let the punctuation carry us away.
The bang is nothing but a bang.
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