Punctuation Crime

I mean, let’s not say I’m a fanatic about punctuation — I’m a fan, that’s all. I’ve got my Bad Boys of Punctuation shirt and I read Eats, Shoots, and Leaves back when you had to import it from the UK. But I’m flexible.

Like, take quotes for emphasis. You know, when a sign at the butcher will say:

We have the “best” meat

and there’s the temptation to be snarky and treat it as though they were using scare quotes to distance themselves from their claim that their meat is best. But they’re not — they’re trying to emphasize that claim — and they’re just using a punctuation tool they’ve seen others use. And that’s how language changes — people use it. (And abuse it, like the way I do em dashes. And that’s a good example — I’m too lazy to make real em dashes on this blog, so I use double hyphens and I’m sure there’s plenty of people that that drives crazy.)

So having said all of that…

Punctuation Crime

WTF is up with this sign? Are those quotes just hanging out? Has everything has ever been said until now just a preface to … Electronica. End Quote.

(It is, of course, a law of nature that since I’m complaining about punctuation there will be 5-10 spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes in this post. See if you can find them!)

7 Comments so far

  1. nikkos (unregistered) on February 6th, 2006 @ 2:05 pm

    My impression of the use of quotation marks around “best” was that this was a legal ploy- for example, “Beefee” on W. North Ave. knows that they do not have the “World’s Best Italian Beef.” They may think they do, but they know this is not a supportable fact. So, rather than risk the ire of of their competitors (who, no doubt, think their beef is the “best”) they throw the quotation marks around the word to let you know the claim is qualified.

    That being said, I have no explantion for the Electronicas sign!


  2. Dave! (unregistered) on February 6th, 2006 @ 2:41 pm

    I thought the crime was the ‘s in “Amplificador’s Camaras de Video”… I mean, unless your amplifiers have their own video cameras. Mine don’t have that kind of spare cash. :)


  3. Fuzzy (unregistered) on February 6th, 2006 @ 4:30 pm

    Nikkos — I think you’re reading too much legal subtlety into signage, especially when you see so many signs where the emphasis is the product itself:

    we have the best “beef”

    and you *hope* that they’re not qualifying the beefiness of their beef (that old urban legend of the KFC name change not-withstanding)

    Dave — After those lonely double-quotes had blown my mind, a mere errant apostrophe was nothing.


  4. nikkos (unregistered) on February 6th, 2006 @ 4:40 pm

    Must be the marketer in me!


  5. Mr. Smith (unregistered) on February 6th, 2006 @ 9:11 pm

    If someone can tell me how to make em-dashes in HTML, I will totally make out with them.

    Or not make out with them. Whatever that person deems to be a better reward for this information.


  6. Fuzzy (unregistered) on February 7th, 2006 @ 9:41 am

    Oh, it’s easy(ish) with entities: an em dash is just — (—) but I hate typing that every time I want to overuse an em dash.

    Since we got started, an en dash is – (–)

    No making out required.


  7. Jason Dufair (unregistered) on February 10th, 2006 @ 1:12 pm

    I’m just glad to know they repair TV services. Do you know how hard it is to find a good shop when your TV services stop working?

    Maybe they mean that they can teach my TV not to tune in to Jerry Falwell.



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