offtopic: descriptivist punctuation reform

punctuation doesn't mean what you're taught it means. in actual modern written English, punctuation has more to do with intonation than it has to do with grammar. the following is a descriptivist set of definitions for how punctuation is used in casual written English, and some cool new names for them based on their uses.

>: Line Break

this is the most important punctuation mark in written English, and also the hardest to represent. the line break indicates a long pause, and typically a change of topic.

in casual written conversation, the line break can be used along with filler words to like
indicate that you need another second or so to uh
type out the next bit of what you're saying

<.>: Serious Pause Mark

the serious pause mark indicates two things: a pause, and a serious tone of voice. rarely used in casual written conversation, it's mostly found between sentences in a formal written setting, where a serious tone of voice is used throughout. When used in conjunction with initial capitalization, the serious pause mark indicates an academic or encyclopedic tone. unlike the formal use of the period / full stop, the serious pause mark isn't necessary at the end of a sentence, because people can tell that the sentence is over because there aren't any more words in it

consecutive serious pause marks become increasingly less serious..... and represent increasingly larger pauses........ if you use enough of them................ it looks just ominous enough................... too loop around.......................... and become just plain silly........................................................

<,>: Neutral Pause Mark

the neutral pause mark is a shorter pause than the serious pause mark, and doesn't have any real tone connotations. in casual conversation, the neutral pause mark is sometimes the only punctuation used, inserted wherever the speaker would take a breath if they were speaking.

<!>: Excitement Mark

the excitement mark can be inserted anywhere to imply excitement. this isn't to be confused with loudness, WHICH IS INDICATED USING CAPITAL LETTERS INSTEAD. NOTICE THAT USING CAPITAL LETTERS WITHOUT EXCITEMENT MARKS LOOKS LOUD, BUT UNENTHUSIASTIC, whereas using small letters and excitement marks looks quiet but emotional!!!! 

<?>: Confusion Mark

some people????? use question marks?????? to indicate speaking with rising tone instead of marking a question????????

<->: Interruption Mark

the interruption mark has a few uses, like joining words together while preserving their parse-as-separate-words-ability. if you're in the middle of writing something when you see something someone else wrote that changes what you want to say but you still want people to see what you were going to say, the interruption mark can-

<^> Reference Mark

reference marks are used as arrows that point at the text directly above them. they can be used to indicate that you agree with whatever was previously written, as though you are pointing directly at their writing and saying "I too say this!".

<:>: Definition Mark

this is a definition mark:

<@> Vocative Mark

the vocative mark is placed directly before someone's name to indicate that that's who you're talking to, or more generally, before a subject to indicate what you're talking about.

<(   )>: Aside Brackets

aside brackets indicate that you're saying something separate but somewhat related (like this) and then going back to what you were saying before.

<[   ]>: Insertion Brackets

[a good and witty description of the way people casually use square brackets]

<<   >>: Angle Brackets

angle brackets are used when you're talking about text itself, like what I've been doing for all of the subheadings here.

<>>: Quotation Mark

a quotation mark is used to quote and then reply to someone, or more abstractly, to "greentext", which is like quoting someone's actions. if a quotation or greentext is used on its own without putting a reply after it, the implication is that you think whatever they said/did is so obviously pathetic that it speaks for itself.

>"greentext", which is like quoting someone's actions

okay, the way greentexting works is actually more complicated than I might've just made it sound. it doesn't appear in my idiolect, but here's my description of its two separate uses from an outsider's perspective. the first is easier to compare to the main use of the quotation mark. someone does something, and you write what they did (in participle present!) after a quotation mark, and then write out your reply.

>describing greentexting as though it were an actual grammatical feature of written English and not just a dumb 4chan meme

the other use of greentexting is to tell longform "greentext stories", which are typically written about the writer themself, and are, for some reason, written in the imperative. greentext stories can be real anecdotes, or they can be fictional, hinting at having been written in the first person without actually being written in any tense at all.

>be me
>unironically enjoy minimalist constructed languages
>make a video that mildly insults a half baked reform of what is objectively the most popular conlang
>mfw forget to mention that there are radio shows put out in esperanto every week

<{   }>: Curly Brackets

curly brackets mean roughly the same thing as angle brackets, and are much more rare.

<*   *>: Action Brackets

action brackets are used to write things that aren't words. *takes a drink of water* *turns backwards in chair to be more relatable to audience* in contexts where action brackets are inconvenient to write, other types of brackets can be used for this, typically aside or insertion brakcets. *clears throat*

<*>: Correction Mark


<~   ~>: Singsong Brackets

singsong brackets indicate a rather playful tone, and sometimes literally means that something is being sung. ~the more you know!~

<"   ">: Sarcasm Brackets

yeah, it's "impossible to indicate sarcasm with English". we OBVIOUSLY "need a new punctuation mark that specifically means sarcasm", because people "can't notate tone using existing punctuation". OBVIOUSLY.

these have other purposes too, like as an easier to parse alternative to angle brackets and curly brackets. however, where the word <example> or the word {example} usually refers to the way the word is written, the word "example" is more abstract.

sarcasm brackets can also be used when you're quoting someone, but quotations are usually indicated using words instead.

<'>: Apostrophe

common misconception, the apostrophe is actually a letter and not a punctuation mark. it's often thought of as a punctuation mark because it's completely optional in almost every word it appears in, the only exceptions being minimal pairs like he'll / hell.

<;>: Semicolon

the semicolon is basically just a neutral pause mark that thinks it's fancy. its most common use is; well; you know ;)

Things That Look Like Punctuation But Are Pretty Much Exclusively Read As Words

<#>: Hash Sign (Hashtag)

I've seen this sometimes used as a topic marker, but even in those cases it's still read as a word.

<$>: Dollar Sign

<%>: Percent Sign

<&>: And Sign (Ampersand)

</>: Or Sign (Slash)

<+>: Plus Sign

on youtube, this is sometimes used for the vocative mark.

<=>: Equals Sign

Things That Could Be Punctuation That I've Never Seen Used As Punctuation In A Casual Written English Context

<`>: Impractical Grave

<_>: Can't Use A Space But There Should Be A Space Here Mark

<|>: Literally Just A Line

<\>: Backslash