Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Express Yourself

When we communicate orally (Hey! Get your mind out of the gutter!), our throats and tongues can work together (I’m serious…OUT!) to do things that we can’t do when communicating via the written word. We can, for example, speak louder for emphasis. We can change the tone of our voice to show mood. We can change the pitch of our voice to show emotion.

When we’re speaking, we also have facial expressions to help us communicate tone:
And hand gestures:

And if we’re having a conversation, people can interrupt us and ask for clarification:

When we’re communicating via the written word, basically all we've got to work with are words. Words are great; we can communicate quite effectively with words, but, as a passionately sarcastic person, I am glad that we can use italics to show emphasis and quotation marks to show irony.


I have to have those shoes.


Is this another one of your "great" ideas?

Quotation marks and italics are not interchangeable.

I just graded an essay in which the student wrote:

Shelly and I always have "meaningful" conversations.

From the context of the essay, I could tell that my student was being sincere: she and Shelly did, in fact, have meaningful conversations. I think she used the quotation marks in an attempt to emphasize just how meaningful their conversations are.

However, by using the quotation marks, she communicated just the opposite: that instead of exchanging theories about the meaning of life, she and Shelly sit around and talk about superficial, petty, vacuous things like hair, make-up, fashion and celebrity gossip.

By the way, does anyone know who designed Kate Middleton's wedding dress? I wonder if she's going to wear her hair up or down. I hope she doesn't overdo it with the make-up.


Duncan D. Horne said...

Yeah, that student gave out completely the opposite meaning! Isn't it great how we can do those things with words and punctuation?!

Duncan In Kuantan

Mary Aalgaard said...

A facial expression can speak a thousand words. Words on a screen can be lost in translation. I'm guessing that Kate has a team of help to get ready, and she's probably trying not to throw up from nerves.

HulaBuns said...

As usual, another great lesson!

I don't know about her dress or hair, but we'll find out soon enough! YAY!

Have a great day. :)

notesfromnadir said...

I like how quotation marks do more than just let us know that someone's talking.

Kelly said...

My friends say I use my hands for quotation marks. I need to stop.
And I miss Chris Farley.

vawriter said...

Wait--Bieber shoots the bird???

Dylan Fitzgerald said...

I always loved how Holden Caufield uses mid-word italics to emphasize how blase he is in "Catcher in the Rye."

Bethany Elizabeth said...

hehe. I've never messed up on this myself, but it would make several sentences a bit more interesting. Maybe for my next essay... :)

Jeffrey Beesler said...

Quotation marks used in the wrong hands can be dangerous weapons. Thank goodness nobody lost an eye from that poorly used set of quotes.

Theresa Milstein said...

How do I make italics in the comment section? I'm saddened that I don't always have access to emphasis when I need it.

Anonymous said...

Again I give homage to my editor. Where would I be without him? Not selling any books, that's for sure.

Stephanie Faris said...

So much is lost without facial expressions. People try with emoticons and "LOL," but you can still offend even when you do that.

Holly Vance said...

I just tried to do a lesson on how punctuation can change meaning. Don't think it worked though. Sending my students here, stat.

Oh, and I never, EVER, say "oral" when lecturing.

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Anonymous said...

What would we do without sarcastic air quotes? I love the picture of Chris Farley, because that is the exact sketch I think of when I think of overzealous use of sarcastic quotation marks! - G

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

OMG, have I got a link for you. You must check out this blog. Let's hope this doesn't get filtered out. The way I started that makes me sound like a total s-p-a-m-m-e-r.

Okay, so yeah, this one will crack you up. Hopefully the link words. If it doesn't, oops.

Blog of Unnecessary Quotes

Anonymous said...

Je viens juste de tomber sur votre travail. Je suis sans voix.
Quel talent vous. Vous êtes source d'inspiration.