Check out “The Joy of Exclamation Marks!” in The Guardian, in which Stuart Jeffries explores why exclamation points seem to be enjoying a revival.
In the ninth book of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, Eric, one of the characters insists that “Multiple exclamation marks are a sure sign of a diseased mind.” In Maskerade, the 18th in the series, another character remarks: “And all those exclamation marks, you notice? Five? A sure sign of someone who wears his underpants on his head.”
There are lots of people these days with figurative underpants on their heads. That’s because in the internet age, the exclamation mark is having a renaissance. In a recent book, Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home, David Shipley and Will Schwalbe make a defence of exclamation marks. They write, for instance, “‘I’ll see you at the conference’ is a simple statement of fact. ‘I’ll see you at the conference!’ lets your fellow conferee know that you’re excited and pleased about the event … ‘Thanks!!!!'”, they contend, “is way friendlier than ‘Thanks’.”
Back in the day when I still received snail mail, I recall snickering at the letters I received from one friend because of the inordinate number of exclamation marks he used (in pretty much every sentence) (and don’t say “That’s not nice to snicker behind your friends’ backs” because hi, have we met?). And colleagues at one job I had may recall that I threatened to remove the exclamation mark key from the keyboard of a coworker who could! not! stop! using! them!
Since then, I’ve softened in my approach to the slammer and agree that the judicious use of one can communicate a certain kind of feeling that a period simply cannot.
Emphasis on judicious!!!!!!!!
Hat tip to Fritinancy.