Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

People of Earth.

Now that you have elected me to the honoured position of Benevolent Dictator for Life, there are several rules which I must make clear.

  • Exclamation marks shall be known forever as exclamation marks and not exclamation points. (Computer scientists are except from the first part of this regulation and may continue to refer to such a mark as a bang).
  • Exclamation marks may be used for exclamations (“Ooh, What A Scorcher!”) or to express an imperative (“Hop Off, You Frogs!”).
  • Exclamation marks may not be used in place of full stops at the end of other sentences without written sanction from the Board of Humour and Jollity.
  • Exclamation marks may never be placed next to one another for to do so makes the angels weep.
  • Exclamation marks may be used in parentheses only by those who have received a recognised higher qualification in irony (!)
  • Offenders will initially be limited to a ration of 1 exclamation mark per month and be subject to a period of re-education.
  • Persistent offenders will be thrown into the Outer Darkness where there is Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth.

By keeping to these laws we may live in peace and harmony and all our ways shall prosper.

That is all.


  1. I think that consigning offenders to the South Side is a tad draconian. Surely Bearsden would be punishment enough? For a first offence?

    • Really PamB, West End offenders should be kept in said area and re-educated. Surely you would not them influenced by the well educated South Side (consider how well those who have taught there have educated us).

  2. F*** OFF!!!!

  3. I choose to offer Fr Madpriest an exemption to the rule about placing exclamation marks together. As he made me laugh out loud, I’ve told the angels to buck up for once.

    Other offenders may not be treated with such benevolence.

  4. Emrys says

    Kelvin you appear to have failed to legislate against the greatest exclamatory crime, the question exclamation. What’s going on there!?

  5. In newspaper argot they are called ‘screamers’ apparently. Along with ‘should of’ and an absence of full stops they are the bane of any good English teacher’s life. And don’t get me started on people who dot the ‘i’ with a little circle—or put one under their over frequent exclamation marks if it comes to that.

  6. Did you see the ?! make an appearance on QI the other week? It actually has a name when it is merged together into one symbol. But I’ve forgotten what it is. To be honest, I quite like ?! and find it useful when trying to make a sound in a read medium.

  7. Andrew says

    It all depends on which IT culture you happen to be living in at the moment. Some various pronunciations of the dreaded symbol are

    “Shriek” (IBM PC)
    “Pling” (Acorn stuff)
    “not” (C and its descendants).

    If I have time I will devise a computer language where !, !!, and !!! all have their well-defined meanings.


  8. What about multiple ! in parenthesis, ideal for debating with (e.g.) evangementalists, especially when the (!) increases with every fallacy, building often to (!!!!) style crescendos?

    Plus, Valley Girl-esque hot teenage girls should surely get an exemption to the “no !!!!” rule. It’s part of their charm!

  9. Agatha says

    Can you use more if you are wearing black shoes?????

  10. @Ryan [another useful convention of punctuation!] Thanks for those links above. I’m no longer hard on the Wee Circle Folk, as anthropologists might term them, as I hung up my MA gown eight years back. So far no-one in my adult ed classes since then has shown a tendency towards wee circles: could be generational…..

  11. Has the use of txtspeak never tempted you to come out of retirement? 😉

    Am not here confirming that I’m among their number, but I gather that the especially-stylish/appalling have been known to draw stars or wee hearts over “i”, enough surely to make the Wee Circle Folk (great name! :-)) seem like Copperplate on an Illuminated manuscript 😉

    • Stars and wee hearts I really like but have, sadly, never seen. At one stage I was assistant archivist in the last school I taught in and had some fine MSS in my purview, none, unfortunately, with wee hearts, not even the Nuremberg Chronicle though it had some braw illuminated capitals and many highly imaginative woodcuts of foreign parts and some indigenes who would make the Wee Circle Folk look pretty humdrum.

  12. Didn’t the late People’s Princess Diana use the little hearts?

  13. Brother David says

    ¿Your Humbleness for Life, do these dictates only apply to those of the English Mother Tongue? We of Other Mother Tongues have our own rules and punctuation.

  14. Ooh, can Glasweigans get to use those cool funny upside down ? marks too please? And what about the use of ?#@ to make swearing more palatable? (Arguably a v.Glasweigan linguistic concern!)

  15. I tempt all sinners to an article where they may be helped:


  16. I would forward that another acceptable exemption on coupling exclamation marks and/or question marks is in chess annotation. Quoting Wikipedia (for speed):

    ! (a particularly good—and usually surprising—move)
    !! (an excellent move)
    ? (a bad move)
    ?? (a blunder)
    !? (an interesting move that may not be best)
    ?! (a dubious move – one which may turn out to be bad)

    Here endeth the lesson.

  17. Kennedy says

    Same notation applies to Backgammon.

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