On the New Republic, Ben Crair looks at how the period evolved from a benign punctuation mark to announce I am not happy about the sentence I just concluded.
Say you find yourself limping to the finish of a wearing workday. You text your girlfriend: I know we made a reservation for your bday tonight but wouldnt it be more romantic if we ate in instead? If she replies,
we could do that
Then you can ring up Papa Johns and order something special. But if she replies,
we could do that.
Then you should probably drink a cup of coffee: Youre either going out or youre eating Papa Johns alone.
This is an unlikely heel turn in linguistics. In most written language, the period is a neutral way to mark a pause or complete a thought; but digital communications are turning it into something more aggressive.
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