Exclamation mark!

A little bit late, but I just got it in my feed today and I think it is an interesting article about the exclamation mark:


September and the Exclamation

In 1551, John Hart, making a list of the major English punctuation marks, included one that he called the wonderer.  He meant what we now call the exclamation mark. Ben Jonson, England’s greatest punctuator, gave it a similar name calling it the admiration mark. In Jonson’s time, it was also called a shriek and a screamer. Since then, it has been called a bang, a boing, a gasper, a pling, a slammer, and a Christer. From a rather good start, this punctuation mark has been given less and less respectful names.

The exclamation mark is ‘rarely needed or acceptable in scientific texts,’ says a Cambridge research guide. However, the same guide less than twenty pages later lists the exclamation as a mathematical symbol to be used to indicate the complete multiplication of a descending sequence of natural numbers. 52! = 52x51x50x49x[…]x3x2x1.  If you are a reading mathematical formula out loud, you will say, when you come upon ‘52!’: ‘fifty-two factorial’, ‘fifty-two shriek’, or ‘fifty-two bang’. (52! is a number so huge that you could shriek (i.e., shuffle) a pack of cards for the entire history of the universe without getting a repeated ordering.) The exclamation mark does appear in scientific texts, but that ‘bang’ suggests a mathematical knowingness about the vulgarity of the shriek.



To read the rest, click on the link.


Source: http://www.englishproject.org/september-and-exclamation