And George Orwell’s Marxist Intellectual Attack.
This was written in response to a Japanese friend who found my over-use of he expression mark “!” in a comment rather irritating. He suggested I use the interrobang “‽”, which he used for this purpose. However simply having a more expressive punctuation mark does not necessarily mean that it is any less volatile on the Chicago or London Punctuation Exchanges. This is where any publisher must purchase their punctuation to use in a book or newspaper, and are commonly called the grammar markets.
As to the interrobang – I remain uncertain about this feature. Recent trading on the open punctuation market has been unpredictable of late, and your suggestion that they be offset against one’s carbon footprint is even more puzzling to me.
One must remember that such interrogatories as the ¿ and expression points ¡ which have such loose regulation in the grammatical framework of the Hispanic speaking world has led to the rapid devaluation of the commercially available interrogatory point “?” to the point [though not a full stop punctuation mark it must be added for clarity] where it is verging on parity with the period or point (yes, in this case it is the full stop “.”). [This is a real full-stop and so must be purchased on the open grammar markets]. Tripled points, the ellipsis “…” are frequently traded for dashes “ – ” on an equal basis and in reality should be traded in the ratio of three periods to a single dash. This is not usually observed in open punctuation – sorry, practice.
In my experience, “This is not usually observed in practise” is a phrase oft used by economics tutors in universities. Indeed they make little reference to the open grammar markets at all, suggesting that this is in fact the rightful domain of the Department of Literature.
George Orwell’s Attack On The Grammar Markets
Most of us will know that George Orwell regarded the semi-colon as redundant in modern English punctuation. Indeed Virgina Woolfe is known to have said “they are dangerously addictive”. Perhaps it was Orwell’s upbringing that saw him avoid such temptations? What is less well known that Orwell used this to undermine the London Punctuation Exchange! It was the publication of his explosive work “Coming Up For Air”. He wrote this without the use of the semi-colon in a thinly veiled Marxist-Intellectual attack on the grammar markets. The expectation being that all the unused semi-colons would be put on the market all at once. It was hoped to cause a literal crash (though not a literary crash).
What actually occurred was unexpected, even to one of Orwell’s literary genius. For nobody reading the book noticed the lack of this punctuation mark, and so the attack failed. In fact, the semi-colon traded the day after publication up two points – full stops, for clarification! The attack having missed its mark in turn opened a space for other trading. With more spaces on the punctuation markets, the Asian space fell in value by several exclamation marks as in many Asian grammars, spaces are far less frequently used. So there was some turbulence in the markets, but not Orwell’s hoped for crash.
Now you may say that you have never seen any mention of the punctuation markets. Indeed punctuation exchange rates are rarely if ever found published in the mainstream newspapers. And almost never in literary magazines. The latter rightly surmise that reporting on exchange rate fluctuations is the domain of publications dedicated to economics; the economists regard discussion of the punctuation markets as the province of the literary domain.