is sad that Paul Newman died. But⎯life is short people? (Although being a short person myself, I was kind of flattered.)
Sure, grammar protocol is changing to adapt to new ways of communication--remember when polite email started with the same salutation as a letter on bond stationary? But no matter how truncated our communication becomes, punctuation will always matter. Why? Because those tiny little dots and dashes and curls contain the power to transform the meaning of words. And, though this may surprise some art directors who consider them decorative, punctuation marks are not interchangeable. A comma, for instance cannot do the work of a colon. And vice versa:
A woman, without her man, is nothing.Punctuation can even impact high finances, as Canada’s largest telecommunications company learned. An attorney for Rogers Communications misplaced a comma in a contract with a company that agreed to install Rogers's cables across the Maritimes. Because of that errant squiggle, a Canadian court invalidated what was believed to be an ironclad five-year contract, costing Rogers $2.13 million. (The "Great Comma" ruling was later reversed by a judge who was presumably less of a grammarian.)
A woman: without her, man is nothing.
OK, I'm a grammar geek, but there are others out there far more zealous than I am. For instance, Jeff Rubin. He's a former newspaperman who was so alarmed that "punctuation is being devalued by a generation of computer wizards" that he went to the trouble of creating National Punctuation Day. You may not have noticed that it celebrated its fifth anniversary on Wednesday. There's a website, of course, and what most interests me on it is that every mention of the holiday is followed by ®. One little mark that contains a whole sentence: Steal my brilliant idea and I'll sue your pants off.