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Are women more exclamatory? (!!!)

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ColoradoGuy

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This, from the Guardian, courtesy of Andrew Sullivan. Apparently use of the exclamation point is making a major comeback, largely because of the rise of the computer and e-mail. One study noted that women are far more likely to use them (!) than men.

There are some great quotations sprinkled through the article. For example, F. Scott Fitzgerald said: "An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own jokes." Elmore Leonard said: "You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose."

The best quip was about Victor Hugo. Back when telegrams were the e-mail of the day, and words cost money, Hugo inquired of his publisher about how his latest book was doing. His telegram, in his entirety, was: ? His publisher's reply was: !

The thesis of the piece, such as it is, is that e-mail is inherently dull, so the exclamation points spice them up. Another thing I did not know was that most typewriters before 1970 or so didn't have them. (I'm pretty sure the one I lugged off to college in 1969 had the key, though.) You had to use a period, back up, and retype an apostrophe. That's a lot of work.
 
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Medievalist

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There's a reason old-school journalists call 'em "screamers."
 

benbradley

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I've got a typewriter or two from who-knows-when (some manual, an early Selectric, and a Selectric II), I'll have to look see what each has. I know a lot of typewriters didn't have the numeral 1, you had to use the lower case letter l for the digit 1. It seems bizarre to think that way now.

But as far as computer use, the exclamation point was in the original ASCII character set from the 1960's, from which current character sets are derived or based on:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASCII

(this then-new standard was an incredibly huge improvement over EBCDIC [I don't know if it had an exclamation point or not, and I don't want to go look] where letters and numbers were scattered around)

Here's an interesting footnote, ASCII became required on all government computers on March 11, 1968:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1968#March
 

Medievalist

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Another thing I did not know was that most typewriters before 1970 or so didn't have them. (I'm pretty sure the one I lugged off to college in 1969 had the key, though.) You had to use a period, back up, and retype an apostrophe. That's a lot of work.

That is not true; not sure what the writer was thinking.

The exclamation point was even on the early prototype typewriters Mark Twain used.

It was on both of the pre 1950 typewriters my parents had, one German, one an American Royal.

And the original ASCII character set has the exclamation point.
 

mscelina

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I do see a lot of exclamation points on the manuscripts I've been editing lately. There are some occasions when they are appropriate, for example in exclamations. And nine times of ten, they get red-inked and discarded.

However, I can't say that I've noticed a significantly higher proportion of exclamation points among women than men. For me, it's more genre. Romance or erotica titles have more of them (and sometimes in clusters that make the fillings jump out of my teeth) than SFF or horror.
 

Dawno

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I find myself using it a lot because I'm genuinely excited, happy, thrilled, etc., with something I'm saying and want the reader to know that. However, these uses are in blog comments, on Facebook or Twitter and it's a much more informal, conversational, medium. Even so, I re-read before I hit enter to make sure that I haven't ended every sentence with one. :)

In my other prose (what little of it I do outside of blogging), for example, much of what I would post here, I try very hard never to use one unless it's part of a quote where someone is genuinely emoting at that level.
 
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That is not true; not sure what the writer was thinking.

The exclamation point was even on the early prototype typewriters Mark Twain used.

It was on both of the pre 1950 typewriters my parents had, one German, one an American Royal.

And the original ASCII character set has the exclamation point.

The typewriter on which I learned to type at the age of six didn't have an exclamation mark. I used to type an apostrophe, backspace and full-stop.

But I've noticed women using !!!s more than men. I hate them. !!!s I mean, not women. I don't like seeing blogs covered in them; makes 'em seem amateurish. Sure, some blogs are just for fun, but...bleh. Just my not-so-humble opinion.
 

Chumplet

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I just went downstairs to have a peek at my 1947 Underwood. There is no number 1, and no exclamation mark.

I have to go back on most of my blog posts to tone down my enthusiasm.
 

TerzaRima

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From the article:

Some theorists (notably D Rubin and K Greene in their paper Gender-Typical Style in Written Language) had argued that the exclamation mark was often a sign of excitability

Oh, le ha ha!!! My uterus, she nags at me to burble on like this. Right?!! ZOMG

Waseleski found otherwise. She concluded that exclamation marks were not just marks of excitability but of friendliness

I think this is more to the mark. Women are socialized to communicate in non-threatening, maybe even self-deprecating ways; I've always thought the exclamation points and smilies and so forth are shorthand for rolling over and showing your soft pink underbelly.
 

Medievalist

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I just went downstairs to have a peek at my 1947 Underwood. There is no number 1, and no exclamation mark.

I have to go back on most of my blog posts to tone down my enthusiasm.

I have decided to use PINK and a Feminine Font so people will KNOW I am a female woman girl.

And lots !!!! of screamers!!

I wish I could put little hearts on every lower-case i . . .


In all seriousness, I don't think I've ever used an exclamation point in any writing that wasn't extremely casual, and very few even then except in self-mockery.

Does anyone remember an abortive effort in the 1970s to create a new punctuation mark that combined, I think, a question mark and an exclamation point? Shoot -- I can't remember what it was called.

And Google isn't helping me a bit. But I only ever saw it used once, and that was in an issue of Cosmo my older sister smuggled into the house . . .

 
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Lisa - it's an interrobang.
Interrobang.gif
 

StephanieFox

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I never use them.

Look out.
Run.
Fire.
Happy birthday.
Shit.
Help.
Go, team.
Oh, no....
 

jilly61

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No, course they're not!!!!!!!
 

Ruv Draba

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(this then-new standard was an incredibly huge improvement over EBCDIC [I don't know if it had an exclamation point or not, and I don't want to go look] where letters and numbers were scattered around)
Yes. Character number 90.
The thesis of the piece, such as it is, is that e-mail is inherently dull, so the exclamation points spice them up.
Email is less formal than office memoranda and letters. In that respect it tries to carries the emotion often found in personal communication. I'd suggest that the amount of punctuation/emoticons relates generally to how much you inject emotion into your verbal communications. There is some concern by social scientists that excessive use of emoticons can lead to adverse social effects. :tongue
I've always thought the exclamation points and smilies and so forth are shorthand for rolling over and showing your soft pink underbelly.
They're either ways of projecting a social persona through impersonal text, or else guidance as to how to read the text -- or both. It isn't always appeasement -- sometimes it's confrontation, threat, humour or just honest emotional response.
 

Lainey Bancroft

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Huh. I do tend to use exclamation points in emails and blog comments. But I recently read a romance that cured me of using them in writing.

Every second sentence ended in an exclamation point! And most of the sentences weren't that exciting! And it was freaking exhausting! And disappointing! And distracting! And annoying!

So, yeah, I don't really want to use them anymore! Ever!

No, I mean that. <-see? N0 exclamation point, yet I REALLY mean it.
 

Samantha's_Song

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Okay, I confess, I used an exclamation mark on AW today, my first one ever on here, cuz even if I'm arguing, I still don't normally use them.
I have the total of three of them in a nearly finished novel of about 95.000 words too. Sorry... :cry:
 

Ruv Draba

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I'm not a girl but I married one some years back and learned to speak her language. I don't think that hers has more splatty punctuation in it than mine.

I use punctuation in dialogue sometimes, but only at the most passionate exclamations -- e.g. in my current WIP where one character is yelling orders to keep another character alive.

I can't recall ever using an exclamation-point in posting except maybe ironically, but I use emoticons all the time. :Shrug:

I use too many commas; semi-colons; and em-length dashes -- sometimes, in the wrong places. Apparently I like my punctuation to reflect my pauses in thinking rather than the reader's pauses in reading.
 
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AnonymousWriter

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I'll admit that I sometimes use them in posts in the "Goals and Accomplishments" section to show how excited I am when someone accomplishes something big.

But I would never, ever, ever use it in any of my prose of poetry. When I see one in a book I find it a big turn-off. It seems tacky to me.

And yes, women are more likely to use them more than men. It's probably because we get a little over-emotional at times. ;)
 

WendyNYC

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I don't use them in my writing. Ever, really. I do online (one at a time, not like this !!!!)

But I see a lot of men (and women) here on AW using these: :):tongue:D:rant:

What's the difference?
 

JuRat

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try chatting online with a girl. you'll get a bunch of !!!!!!! and !?!?!?!?!!! or <<3333333333333333333.

You can't generalize this but a lot of women are more exclamatory than men.
 

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