The British Government Is Regulating Exclamation Points! So Get Ready To Text Very Properly!
Sorry kids, playtime is over — at least with punctuation that is. It has been announced that the British government is regulating exclamation points in this summer’s grammar exam taken by seven-year-olds. The Sunday Times reports that this change in policy is due to the infamous exclamation point’s incorrect and over-usage in social media posts and text conversations. The British already have a bit of a reputation for being polite, correct, and exacting (some might say, even a bit of a stick in the mud), and with the government enforcing "proper rules of grammar" concerning this most expressive mark this image will not change. And when I say "proper," I’m talking like, first season of Downton Abbey proper.
On the new exams, the use of the exclamation point will only be marked as correct by teachers if the sentences begin with the words “How” or “What.” According to The Sunday Times , the two examples given in a booklet detailing how the National Curriculum key stage 2 grammar assessments should be scored are “What a lovely day!” and “How exciting!” So don’t even think of using anything more than a plain old period after “It’s exciting” or "It's a lovely day." Sounds so dreary now, huh?
Cracking down on the correct “syntax of an exclamation” in the exams is leaving many to wonder if they will be penalized for letting an “Oh crickey!” slip, reports The Independent. Though even The Department of Education admits that it the exclamation point may have a “wider usage.”
In a statement seeking to justify the decision, a spokesperson for The Department of Education said, “A high-quality education in English — and the ability to communicate effectively — is an important part of the government’s commitment to extend opportunity to all." But a plethora of critics say that this strict usage is outdated and old-fashioned. Critics are concerned that trying to staunch the fluidity of grammar halts its evolution and even the children’s creativity. Alan Smithers, a Professor at the University of Buckingham, voiced his opinion to The Sunday Times saying, “Grammar is always evolving, especially with the interchange of text messages and prose. To knock children back for experimenting with punctuation seems absurd.”
Twitter has even come forth in protest, indicating that Nick Gibb, the Minister of State at the Department of Education, doesn't heed these grammatical strictures.
Only time will tell in the British government's new restraints will change the loose and flippant ways in which we sling around our exclamation points. While it may seem overly cautious now, who will take a stand when emojis begin to be used freely in math homework?
Can you picture what the essays of the future will look like if we allow this evolution to continue 50 years from now? My guess is something like this: "The Existential Failure In Tess Of The d’Urbervilles!! 😭😘👼"