Friday March 11, 2016

New U.K. rules spur outrage! over student use of exclamation marks

Poet Priscila Uppal says lazy use of exclamation marks can damage human relationships.

Poet Priscila Uppal says lazy use of exclamation marks can damage human relationships. (rgbstock)

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Exclamation Mark Quoteboard

If the punctuation mark's proliferation has got you declaring "enough is enough!" (exclamation mark warranted), then you're hardly alone. 

In the U.K., new rules for school children have been designed to curb the exclamation mark's use. Young students must show they can produce four different types of sentence: statement, question, command and exclamation. And if using an exclamation, the sentence must begin with "how" or "what" and include a verb. If students don't follow the rules, they will be assessed as working below the expected standard.

Example: "What a wonderful day this is!" or "What a fantastic day that was!"

To debate the use or abuse of the exclamation mark in life, The Current convened an esteemed panel of language lovers: 

  • Priscila Uppal, poet and professor of English at York University.
  • Tom Howell, author of The Rude Story of English, an ex-lexicographer, and co-host of CBC's Ideas from the Trenches series.
  • George Elliott Clarke, Canada's parliamentary poet laureate who teaches English literature at the University of Toronto.

European parliament deputies vote! against a modification in the Hungarian constitution to reinforce the power of the government, March 12, 2013. (Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images)

Are you a serial exclamation mark user or do you think exclamation mark use has gotten out of control? What's your favourite punctuation mark?

Send us an email, find us on Facebook or tweet us @TheCurrentCBC to share your thoughts on this.

This segment was produced by The Current's Karin Marley and Marc Apollonio.