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robertogreco : periods   2

OMG! In Text Messages, Punctuation Conveys Meaning - Pacific Standard
"The Oxford English Dictionary's recent announced that its 2015 "word" of the year is an emoji confirmed that texting is indeed creating a whole new ... not language, exactly, but certainly a distinctive dialect. This extremely abbreviated means of expression clearly requires shortcuts: symbols, either new or re-purposed, that convey the sender's meaning or intention.

A Binghamton University research team has apparently identified one such indicator: Whether or not you put a period at the end of a reply.

In the journal Computers in Human Behavior, researchers led by psychologist Celia Klin report that college students perceive text messages that end with a period to be less sincere than ones that do not.

That sincerely baffles me.

The study featured 126 undergraduates, who read a series of exchanges that appeared as either text messages or handwritten notes. The "text messages" were printed on pictures of cell phones; the "handwritten notes" were printed on pictures of loose-leaf paper.

"Punctuation is one of the cues used by senders, and understood by receivers, to convey pragmatic and social information."

The experimental exchanges featured an invitation that was phrased as a question ("Dave gave me his extra tickets. Wanna come?"), followed by a one-word response such as "Yeah" or "Sure." For each of the 16 exchanges, participants either read a version in which the response ended with a period, or an alternate version in which it was not punctuated.

After reading each exchange, participants rated the sincerity of the receiver's response on a scale of one to seven.

The result: Text messages that ended with a period were rated less sincere than those that did not. This was not true of handwritten notes. "These results indicate that punctuation influenced the perceived meaning of the text messages," the researchers write.

Now, communicating effectively when you can't hear a person's tone of voice, see their facial expression, or note the nuances contained in longer written messages can be tricky; it was inevitable that indicators of emotion would evolve into existence. But why this one?

I can only guess that, for some people (the researchers note the size of the effect was "modest"), a sentence ending in a period suggests the other person put at least a little time and effort into composing their reply. If you take time to consider your answer, it opens the possibility of mendacity. In contrast, if you answer spontaneously and informally, the message presumably reflects your instantaneous gut response—which is honest by definition.

Wisely, the researchers do not weigh in on that question. "Our claim is not so much that the period is used to convey a lack of sincerity in text messages," they write, "but that punctuation is one of the cues used by senders, and understood by receivers, to convey pragmatic and social information."

"Our data indicate that people are able to include in their texts the types of non-verbal cues that are present in face-to-face conversation."

So, next time you are texting, pay attention to the punctuation you use, or don't use. Chances are that even small choices convey specific meanings. And if they don't reflect what you're trying to say, the LOL is on you."

[See also: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/12/08/study-confirms-that-ending-your-texts-with-a-period-is-terrible/]
texting  punctuation  messaging  periods  language  meaning  mobile  phones  emoji  sincerity  tomjacobs  howwewrite 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The Period, Our Simplest Punctuation Mark, Has Become a Sign of Anger | New Republic
"“In the world of texting and IMing … the default is to end just by stopping, with no punctuation mark at all,” Liberman wrote me. “In that situation, choosing to add a period also adds meaning because the reader(s) need to figure out why you did it. And what they infer, plausibly enough, is something like ‘This is final, this is the end of the discussion or at least the end of what I have to contribute to it.’”

It’s a remarkable innovation. The period was one of the first punctuation marks to enter written language as a way to indicate a pause, back when writing was used primarily as a record of (and script for) speech. Over time, as the written word gained autonomy from the spoken word, punctuation became a way to structure a text according to its own unique hierarchy and logic. While punctuation could still be used to create or suggest the rhythms of speech, only the exclamation point and question mark indicated anything like what an orator would call “tone.”"



"It's not just the period. Nearly everyone has struggled to figure out whether or not a received message is sarcastic. So people began using exclamation points almost as sincerity markers: “I really mean the sentence I just concluded!” (This is especially true of exclamation points used in sequence: “Are you being sarcastic?” “No!!!!!”) And as problems of tone kept arising on text and instant message, people turned to other punctuation marks on their keyboards rather than inventing new ones.2 The question mark has similarly outgrown its traditional purpose. I notice it more and more as a way to temper straightforward statements that might otherwise seem cocky, as in “I’m pretty sure he likes me?” The ellipsis, as Slate noted, has come to serve a whole range of purposes. I often see people using it as a passive-aggressive alternative to the period’s outright hostility—an invitation to the offender to guess at his mistake and remedy it. (“No.” shuts down the conversation; “No…” allows it to continue.)

Medial punctuation, like the comma and parentheses, has yet to take on emotional significance (at least as far as I've observed). And these newfangled, emotional uses of terminal punctuation haven't crossed over into more traditional, thoughtful writing. (I have used the period throughout this story, and I’m in a perfectly pleasant mood.) Perhaps one day it will, though, and our descendants will wonder why everyone used to be so angry. For posterity's sake, then, let my author bio be clear:

Ben Crair is a story editor at The New Republic!"
periods  punctuation  texting  language  grammar  emotion  bencrair  2013 
december 2013 by robertogreco

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