Donna's Blog

Duke and the Evil Exclamation

Posted by donnadawson on February 25, 2013 at 9:45 AM

It's quite the thing, watching a Chihuahua do his best not to laugh.  In Duke's case, he's kind of got a puckering about the lips while his whiskers are twitching upward.  Eyelids stretch tight in an effort to cover the bulbous orbs--or perhaps to hide the mirth in them.  He stands stalk still as though each muscle fights to control an outbreak of jerking and heaving.  I'm proud of him for his restraint.

Bee is not quite out of her teen equivalent years yet and as such, she is prone to bruised feelings on occasion.  I can pretty much guarantee those feelings would rear an ugly head if Duke did let loose on his humour because Bee is the unknowing instigator of that humour.

It goes back to the essay that she decided to write for the Canine Confessions anthology.  The content is fine--very moving and deep.  It isn't that which tickles Duke's funny bone.  It's the abundance of exclamation marks.  Apparently Bee doesn't know the purpose for which they should be used.  An excerpt of the said manuscript might make my point.  She set up her scene beautifully, describing the trip to the groomer's and the deluxe digs where she would be bathed, de-scented and pawdicured.  That all went quite well.  And then she blew it.

I hadn't expected to see anyone I knew there.  With delicate steps, I followed my pet human up the stairs to the salon.  Imagine my surprise when there, in the waiting room, sat Molly Pug!  I hadn't seen Molly for years!

"Molly!  Oh Molly!  Where on earth have you been all these years?!  I've missed you!  Duke has missed you!"  We embraced as best our leashes would allow and I cried the tears of happiness!

Exclamation marks are like chili peppers.  They are to be used sparingly.  Good old Webster understood this when he wrote:  Exclamation point--a mark used especially after an interjection or exclamation to indicate forceful utterance or strong feeling.

Duke thought it would be a good idea if I shared this tidbit of knowledge with Bee and in view of the fact that he could fit into her jowls quite nicely, I agreed.  I read the dictionary definition to her. She looked at me sideways when I mentioned the word 'interjection'.  I explained that it was a kind of outburst like 'wow' or 'cool' in which case an exclamation point was perfectly acceptable.  I took her through the above-mentioned excerpt and discussed the use of her particular choice of punctuation.  We agreed that the first 'Molly' was deserving an exclamation point and possibly the second.  I suggested she not use it twice so close together though.  We ruled out the question mark/exclamation point, leaving only the question mark.  And we deleted every exclamation point before and after.  I did my best to explain that exclamation points give the appearance of shouting and that she should try shouting out the paragraph to see if it works.  I also mentioned that using it once in dialogue where shouting is actually done would get the point across without the overkill.

Duke, apparently, found the idea of shouting the paragraph out as more than funny and a loud guffaw flapped through that toothless yap of his.  Bee's reaction surprised me.  She levelled a look at him, licked her lips once and smiled.  It appears that she knows that Duke would fit nicely between her teeth too.  The threat was effective.  Duke stopped laughing.

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1 Comment

Reply Fay
12:44 PM on February 25, 2013 
Thanks. I needed that.