Culture

Question Mark Shortage?

John Astin as The Riddler
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare, who was born April 23, 1564 and died on April 23, 1616, (both in Stratford-upon-Avon), was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". | Photo: Unknown | William Shakespeare, Poet, Playwright, Author, Icon, Novelist,

Teens are wasting another resource.

It's happening at a frightening pace.

You hear it every day in high school hallways, on college quads and at the malls of America. Normal conversational sentences that should be ending with periods are now ending with question marks. Could overuse deplete our nation's supply of this precious piece of punctuation. (As you can see, your humble correspondent is cutting way back on his question marks in this piece like Californians are cutting back on water.)

Punctuation like Christmas is already under attack. The beloved comma the school monitor of the compound sentence now finds itself the enemy of stream-of-consciousness where no barriers pauses or other innocuous hurdles are deemed 'helpful' no matter how meandering and labyrinthian the thought. Soon we will have storehouses filled with this unwanted little curly-Q.

"To be or not to be." Shakespeare and that other guy who wrote all his plays and sonnets had generous supplies of the question mark. But what about our modern-day bards. Will we be limited in our ability to question and be constrained by this dearth. How can the satirist and the jibe question authority if the question mark goes extinct. And how can we stop our teens from hogging all the good stuff.

"So, I was sitting in my Poli Sci class? And Brett walks in?"
"Brett Peters? Oh, he's hot! Like I've had my eye on him since sophomore year?"
"I know? And when he like walked by me, he turned around to take another look? I was like floored?
What a waste of good question marks and the word 'like.' But it does beg the question, one I have no answer to: Can the spoken question mark really have an effect on the supply of written ones.

"That is a fascinating question," pondered Professor Janusz Prybyz, head of the Linguistics Department at Loyola Marymount University. "It may or may not. Back in 1521, the Serbians invaded Poland and took away with them boatloads and boatloads of vowels from our National Treasury, leaving us with so few vowels that names like mine became the norm."

Prybyz took a long draw off his pipe, then continued. "Now, in theory, we could have replaced all those missing vowels, but the shock of losing them in the first place created a psychological barrier to do so. The same could happen if writers like yourself feel that the question mark is being grossly overused. Does that answer your question."

Perhaps. But I do live in fear that one day the question mark, like the polar bear, will disappear. What are we to do then. Can we ever truly question ourselves, our lives and the society in which we live.

And maybe most importantly, how could the The Riddler truly riddle. Riddle me this, Batman.

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Updated May 6, 2017 5:51 AM EDT | More details

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