Justin Li


Favourite Wikipedia Page

2008-04-10

We all know that Wikipedia can be distracting at times, but never has it entertained me as much as today when I read the pages on punctuation. I don't even remember how I got to those pages (I think I was looking up Asterisk the telephony system). But those pages are hilarious.

Here are a few of my favourite parts:

Apostrophe:

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Kingsley Amis, on being challenged to produce a sentence whose meaning depended on a possessive apostrophe, came up with:

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Apostrophes used incorrectly to form plurals are known as greengrocers' apostrophes (or grocers' apostrophes, or sometimes humorously greengrocers apostrophe's).

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Parentheses:

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Parentheses may also be nested (with one set (such as this) inside another set). This is not commonly used in formal writing (though sometimes other brackets [especially square brackets] will be used for one or more inner set of parentheses [in other words, secondary {or even tertiary} phrases can be found within the main sentence]).

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Square Brackets:

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The bracketed expression [sic] is used to indicate errors that are "thus in the original"; a bracketed ellipsis [...] is often used to indicate deleted material; bracketed comments indicate when original text has been modified for clarity: "I'd like to thank [several unimportant people] and my parentals [sic] for their love, tolerance [...] and assistance [italics added]".

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Square brackets are also used as parentheses within parentheses (alternating between parentheses and square brackets as nesting gets deeper [despite the alternative use of curly braces for this purpose (as mentioned earlier)]).

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Curly Brackets:

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Curly brackets are often used in internet communities and through instant messaging to indicate hugging.

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Colon:

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It also has the widespread usage of representing two vertically aligned eyes in a emoticon, such as :-), :), :(, :P, :D, :O, etc.

Ellipsis:

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The use of ellipses can either mislead or clarify, and the reader must rely on the good intentions of the writer who uses it. An example of this ambiguity is 'She went to... school.' In this sentence, '...' might represent the word 'elementary', or the word 'no'.

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In Perl6, the 3-character ellipsis is also known as the "yadda yadda yadda" operator...

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Exclamation Mark:

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The English town of Westward Ho!, named after the novel by Charles Kingsley, is the only place name in the United Kingdom that officially contains an exclamation mark. There is a town in Quebec called Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, which officially contains two exclamation marks in its name.

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In recent Internet culture, especially where leet is used, an excessive way of expressing exclamation in text is seen as !!!!!!111. This notation originates from the eagerness to add multiple exclamation marks but failing to hit the shift key combination properly. Later this behavior has evolved into a sign of recognition for certain Internet cultures who now intentionally add 1s after their expressions either to ridicule people who do it without purpose or as a sign of recognition towards others who also are familiar with the behavior. As a further pun to this development of linguistics, some add literal ones such as !!!!!one!11 to explicitly state that their use of 1s was intentionally typed, since one is fairly unlikely to be typed by accident.

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British English, a (!) symbol (an exclamation mark within parentheses) implies that a character has made an obviously sarcastic comment eg: "Ooh, a sarcasm detector. Oh, that's a really useful invention.(!)"

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Quotation Marks:

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Sometimes, quotations are nested in more levels than inner and outer quotation. Nesting levels up to five can be found in the Bible.^[2]^ In these cases, questions arise about the form (and names) of the quotation marks to be used. The most common way is to simply alternate between the two forms^[citation\ needed]^, thus:

"...'..."...' ... ... '..."...'..."

If such a passage is further quoted in another publication, then all of their forms have to be shifted over by one level.

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A three-way distinction is occasionally made between normal use of a word (no quotation marks), referring to the concept behind the word (single quotation marks), and the word itself (double quotation marks):

When discussing 'use', use "use".

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Slash:

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The Slash is also the symbol for a wand in NetHack.

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Ampersand:

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Perhaps due to its increasing rarity, the ampersand is sometimes rendered incorrectly when drawn by hand. The most common error is to render the symbol backwards [1]. Another mistake that is sometimes made is to draw it as a treble clef from musical notation.

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Asterisk:

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In the Common Lisp programming language, the names of global variables are conventionally set off with asterisks, *LIKE-THIS*.

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Caret:

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The caret is also a common text emoticon used in a pair to resemble Anime eyes (\^\^).

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