September 24th is National Punctuation Day, a “celebration of the lowly comma, correctly used quotation marks, and other proper uses of periods, semicolons, and the ever-mysterious ellipsis.” National Punctuation Day was founded by Jeff Rubin, a newsletter writer and professional speaker. Today marks the eighth annual observance of the holiday, which has garnered national recognition since it’s founding in 2004.
It’s been a long time since my elementary school days and it’s very obvious to me (and probably a lot of other people out there) that I no longer remember many of the “golden rules” of punctuation. I find it a little funny that these tiny marks should illicit such confusion and stress, especially considering how comfortable I am when working with other aspects of the written word. For instance, I like to think that my grammar is, in general, praise-worthy (though I know this belief could very well be a self-induced delusion.) Growing up with my mother, an accomplished writer, I had the privilege of her guidance and learned how to organize my thoughts on paper at a young age. And with access to on-line thesauruses and dictionaries, I no longer feel the defeat of my own limited personal vocabulary. And yet, this minor detail of punctuation makes me feel like a child again.
To celebrate today’s “unofficial” Chris and I explored the official National Punctuation Day website, which explains the proper usage of apostrophes, brackets, colons, commas, dashes, the ellipses, exclamation points, hyphens, parentheses, periods, question marks, quotation marks, and semicolons. As we studied I realized that I’m a repeat offender when it comes to breaking certain rules. I’m not sure if it counts for or against me, but I very consciously break the rule that requires you to put punctuation inside of quotation marks — I just don’t like the way it looks when done “properly”. (I mean, “properly.”) I also didn’t realize that you’re supposed to put a space on either side of an ellipsis. But what really concerns me the most is my dramatic over-use of commas. Oh well, nobody can be perfect. ,,,,,,