Sunday, March 22, 2009


March 22, 2009 WOTD- punctuation

Call it the effects of a lengthy Sunday afternoon nap, where dreams go askew with the abnormality of sleeping soundly while the sun is high, but when the word of the day popped up as "punctuation" I started asking questions. Stuff like:
If someone has surgery to remove part of their colon are they left with a semi-colon?
Why do the lives of women have so many blasted periods?
Does a dash have rules in its usage or is it the thing everyone uses when they know there is supposed to be some sort of shift - only they are not quite sure which punctuation mark is appropriate - know...sort of like the dot-dot-dot.
Kate's room mate, Tiffany, also works for Teach for America in Houston. They both teach in low income Title 1 schools, both teach ESL students. Kate's in Jr High and Tiffany teaches Fourth Graders. Both Kate and Tiffany are in the cultural minorities in their schools. Tiffany is sort of accustomed to it, as she is half Navajo. Kate is still learning to deal, she being in the 1% of her school which is "white or other". Last summer they practiced their teaching with non-ESL students for a few weeks in summer schools in Houston. Tiffany taught first graders with her friend Simona. One day Simona was trying to teach punctuation, talking to the kids about those dots and lines and squiggles at the end of sentences. When she got to the exclamation mark she explained what it meant and asked if anyone could tell her something which might use an exclamation mark in it. One little seven-year-old raised her hand and hit it dead on. She stood up, lifted her hand and pointed her finger to the sky, waving it back and forth in front of her face while she cocked her hip to the side and leaned her head on her shoulder, practically singing the words: "Oooo, Girl, you KNOW you ain't pregnant!"
She got an A.
When I first started studying songwriting in earnest I discovered that a typed lyric generally does not use punctuation marks. This was a great discovery! Come to think of it, I probably sub-consciously turned to songwriting as a form of expression, not because I am particularly musical. I don't read music, and I don't play guitar particularly well. Seriously, I can't even jam with musicians very well, sad to say. And why in the world would anyone put such constraints as rhythm, rhyme, melody,harmony, counterpoint, limited length, chorus repetition, bridges and hook lines and singability on their literary checklist? Why? Because we do not have to punctuate! (This is probably obvious to anyone reading this and analyzing the punctuation usage...-:;!)

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