According to linguistic experts, full stops intimidate young people because they interpret them as a sign of anger – particularly when it comes to social media communication.
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Having grown up in the era of smartphones, teens and those in their early 20s i.e. Generation Z are used to sending short messages without full stops.
The debate over the use of full stops was ignited after writer Rhiannon Cosslett tweeted the following (since deleted):
Older people – do you realise that ending a sentence with a full stop comes across as sort of abrupt and unfriendly to younger people in an email/chat? Genuinely curious.
Despite the fact Rhiannon used a full stop and proper punctuation in general in her Tweet, people piled onto her, calling her a ‘snowflake’ and all the rest of it. Which I guess is why she deleted the Tweet.
Crime novelist Sophie Hannah added her own thoughts:
Just asked 16-year-old son – apparently this is true. If he got a message with full stops at the end of sentences he’d think the sender was “weird, mean or too blunt”.’
According to experts, youngsters used to communicating electronically break up their thoughts by sending each one as a separate message, rather than using a full stop, which they use only to signal they are annoyed or irritated.
Linguist Dr Lauren Fonteyn of Leiden University in Holland, says:
If you send a text message without a full stop, it’s already obvious that you’ve concluded the message.
So if you add that additional marker for completion, they will read something into it and it tends to be a falling intonation or negative tone.
A linguist from the University of Cambridge, Owen McArdle, told The Telegraph:
I’m not sure I agree about emails. I guess it depends how formal they are.
But full stops are, in my experience, very much the exception and not the norm in [young people’s] instant messages, and have a new role in signifying an abrupt or angry tone of voice.
Welp, it looks like 15+ years of smartphone usage is well and truly evolving the usage of the full stop – at least when it comes to text messaging. Which absolutely sucks for anyone who likes being grammatically correct. But how did this even come to be? It can’t be laziness because adding a fullstop literally takes one extra tap of a finger. Does Gen Z find proper grammar too challenging? Well that can’t be it either because you’d have to be braindead to not be able to wrap your head around a full stop.
I guess it’s just how text etiquette works nowadays. After all writing an essay for school or a letter to your grandma isn’t the same thing as sending a text to the group chat. Just as long as we keep both writing styles distinct then it shouldn’t be a problem. In the meantime don’t let Gen-Z know about the interrobang. Yikes‽
To watch a young lad at a Spelling Bee faint and then immediately get back up and spell his word to perfection, click HERE. No way he’s afraid of a full stop.