Mighty Red Pen

December 11, 2008

No exclamation marks!!!

Mike Schwabenbauer really really hates exclamation marks!!!!

Hat tip to Molie for directing me to an article about this English teacher in Simms, Montana, who takes his job very VERY seriously. His particular peeve? Excessive punctuation, especially excessive exclamation marks. According to an article from the Great Falls Tribune:

“You’re not going to see me put four periods at the end of a sentence because I’m extra declarative,” Schwabenbauer said. “I’m not saying (exclamation marks) shouldn’t be used. They should be used properly and with restraint.”

Okay, point taken. And apparently, he’s really having an influence on his students, which is great. But not only does he correct his students’ papers, he goes around the school marking up posters that offend him. Apparently, he’s also taken his crusade to the streets:

He shops at Smith’s grocery store and noticed one of the signs on the express lane said “12 items or less!!” He said he contacted management to tell them about the error, but his comments weren’t well received at first. So he tried two more times.

“At first, I think they thought I was a little mental,” he said.

Schwabenbauer finally got a manager to change the sign, and he said he felt like he had achieved a small victory in his crusade.

Excessive exclamation marks are part of a larger societal problem that has led to the decline of communication between individuals, Schwabenbauer contends.

“When a reputable business does it, I feel like I have to say something,” he said.

Whoa there!!!!! Now, well-documented that MRP supports appropriate use of punctuation and so forth, but I generally recommend restraint when getting all up in other’s people’s business about their grammar and punctuation (unless I’m required to do so because it’s my, um, job). I’m also not sure that I agree that excessive exclamation marks are one of the Four Grammarians of the Apostrophocalypse, either.  So despite a general affinity for some aspects of Schwabenbauer’s spirited point of view, I had to applaud a little the gumption shown by some folks who found it within them to fight back against the Punctuation Police:

The ladies that work in the office posted a sign in the coffee room warning individuals they can share, but not to hog the food!!

Schwabenbauer then posted a sign with a quote from author Terry Pratchett saying “multiple exclamation marks are a sure sign of a diseased mind.”

The office ladies responded by adding a border of exclamation marks to their sign.

!!!!!! !!!!!! !!!!!! !!!!!!



  1. “Excessive exclamation marks are part of a larger societal problem that has led to the decline of communication between individuals, Schwabenbauer contends.”

    Of course. That explains why no one could communicate in the 18th century – too many commas, dashes, capital letters etc. in their literature.

    Comment by John — December 12, 2008 @ 5:23 pm | Reply

  2. Thought this might be of some relevance:

    Discworld and Pratchett wiki: Multiple exclamation marks

    Comment by JD — December 14, 2008 @ 9:37 am | Reply

  3. Thanks, lovely post. – One might point Schwabenbauer to the fact that multiple exclamation marks in his case have improved communication between him and shop managers whom he might never have contacted otherwise. 😉

    @JD: Thanks for the wiki link, too.

    Comment by rip — January 28, 2009 @ 2:12 pm | Reply

  4. Schwabenbauer is the man. He was my teacher for two years. I learned more from his 2 courses than I did all my other 28 classes put together. Very intelligent man.

    Comment by Colt — January 22, 2014 @ 7:28 pm | Reply

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