5/12/2008

I'm thinking maybe this is wrong???

I've started noticing among a number of co-workers a tendency to use question marks in what I would think is an inappropriate manner.

Maybe someone with a formal knowledge of English composition will able to tell me if this is truly acceptable or if it's just a new perversion of written communication via the lolcat culture.

What I'm referring to is the use of a question mark to express doubt in what would normally be considered a statement and not, well, a question.

For instance:

I heard the weather was supposed to be nice today???

Maybe I'm missing something here???

A badger is gnawing on my privates???

Although I'm not sure if there would ever be a situation where anyone might doubt a badger is indeed gnawing on his or her privates, I think you get the idea. It should also be noted that when the question mark is used in this way, rarely is it ever used just once.

I suppose this bothers me so much because I've always treated the presence of a question mark as an indication that a question is being asked. Multiple question marks imply a very important question is being asked. So when I see it used not in a question, but rather merely as an expression of doubt, things can get confusing. Take this on-line conversation I recently had:

Ervill694vr: I guess I was really drunk when I got home from the bar last night???

DCasper: Oh, really? I wouldn't know. I wasn't there when you got home.

Ervill694vr: I wasn't asking you. I was telling you.

DCasper: Sorry, but, you used question marks. I thought you were asking.

Ervill694vr: Well, I wasn't. It's all just a bit fuzzy.

DCasper: Okay.

Ervill694vr: And before that a badger was gnawing on my privates?

DCasper: That's horrible!

Ervill694vr: No...I'm asking! At any point last night did you see a woodland creature attached to my crotch?

Once again, you can see the trouble this causes.

Or, should I say, you can see the trouble this causes???

All I ask is that if there's some new rule about appropriate usage of punctuation, is it too much to have a newsletter or something for us later adopters? I have a hard enough time answering the legitimate questions asked of me that I don't need the added difficulty of determining whether or not a question is being asked in the first place.

Thanks for hearing me out. Your attention on this matter is greatly appreciated???

4 comments:

Nick said...

Clearly this person was using the ? to indicate a lilt in voice... or uncertainty in his statements rather than a question.

"I heard the weather was supposed to be nice today???" turns into "Did you hear that the weather was supposed to be nice today???"

"Maybe I'm missing something here???" becomes "Am I missing something here???"

I've caught myself doing that as well... but unfortunately not until after I click Send. It's essentially making questions passive tense.

Buy him a copy of this book... it might help?

Real Debate said...

Interesting post.

Perhaps we could discuss it at Drinking Right tomorrow?

Do you remember Drinking Right?

We miss you?

Well you would have to show up to determine if that last one was in the proper context.

asianbadger said...

If I was gnawing on your privates, you would know. Trust me.

asianbadger said...

Dave...Remember Papa's Social Club?

Don't make Fred and the rest of us have to find you.