Social media messages using periods, believe it or not, can intimidate teens and young adults, who interpret such punctuation as a sign of anger, the Daily Mail reported, citing linguists.
Say. It. Ain’t. So.
It seems the aforementioned age group — otherwise known as Generation Z — has grown up with smartphones they use to send short messages without periods, the outlet said.
According to a 2015 study from State University of New York, Binghamton, those who finish messages with periods are viewed as insincere, the Daily Mail said, adding that the debate resurfaced after writer Rhiannon Cosslett tweeted: “Older people — do you realize that ending a sentence with a full stop comes across as sort of abrupt and unfriendly to younger people in an email/chat? Genuinely curious.”
The outlet said several Twitter users couldn’t believe it — particularly because Cosslett’s own tweet ended with a full stop (i.e., period). One Twitter user even accused her of “peak snowflakery,” the Daily Mail said.
Enter crime novelist Sophie Hannah, who replied, “Just asked 16-year-old son — apparently this is true. If he got a message with full stops at the end of sentences, he’d think the sender was ‘weird, mean or too blunt,'” the outlet said.
Experts say young people used electronic communication to break up their thoughts by sending each one in a separate message without punctuation — and the only time a period is used is when they want to communicate annoyance or irritation, the Daily Mail said.
In regard to the SUNY Binghamton study, which surveyed 126 undergraduates, research found that text messages ending in periods were perceived as less sincere while those ending in exclamation points were seen as heartfelt or more profound, the outlet said.
The researchers therefore concluded that punctuation “is one cue used by senders, and understood by receivers, to convey pragmatic and social information” such as irritation, the Daily Mail said.
“When speaking, people easily convey social and emotional information with eye gaze, facial expressions, tone of voice, pauses and so on,” research leader Celia Klin said, the outlet noted. “People obviously can’t use these mechanisms when they are texting. Thus, it makes sense that texters rely on what they have available to them — emoticons, deliberate misspellings that mimic speech sounds and, according to our data, punctuation.”
Owen McArdle, a University of Cambridge linguist, told the Telegraph that periods “are, in my experience, very much the exception and not the norm in [young people’s] instant messages, and have a new role in signifying an abrupt or angry tone of voice,” the Daily Mail said.
More from the outlet:
Professor David Crystal, one of the world’s leading language experts, argues that the usage of full stops is being “revised in a really fundamental way.”
In his book, “Making a Point,” he says that the punctuation mark has become an “emotion marker” which alerts the recipient that the sender is angry or annoyed.
He wrote: “You look at the Internet or any instant messaging exchange — anything that is a fast dialogue taking place. People simply do not put full stops in unless they want to make a point. The full stop is now being used in those circumstances as an emotion marker.”
This writer’s perspective!
Ah, youth (Look Ma! No period!)
I fondly recall in the previous century when folks commonly ended sentences and complete thoughts with periods, and no one got offended. (Sorry, kids) Now a “full stop” means the writer is, well, mean? May it never be!
I’m not sure Elaine from “Seinfeld” had a problem using the period, but her publishing company boss sure didn’t like her overuse of the exclamation point!
Elaine and Mr. Lippman – Exclamation points
Or her guy pal!
Seinfeld – Exclamation Point
Young ones, take heed 🙂