“I’d rather be a comma than a full stop”.
I was listening to the new Coldplay album, “Mylo Xyloto” in the car on the way home from Birmingham last weekend, when this lyric caught my attention in “Every Tear Drop is a Waterfall”. Now, I like Coldplay, but I’d be amongst the first to tell you that Chris Martin’s lyrics are a study in vague worries and appalling rhymes. How many times and in how many different ways do I need to hear that puzzles are missing pieces and that everything seems a bit shit now, but will probably be okay in the long-run?
This seems like new, interesting lyrical territory for them.
Questions spring to mind (…and there’s another Chris Martin lyric if I ever heard one… he can have that one for nothing): what’s wrong with being a full stop? Is being a comma inherently better? Is there some sort of punctuational hierarchy that I’m not aware of? Is a semi-colon better than a full stop is better than a comma? Do they all look down upon ampersands? I feel that I now need to know the answers (…and there’s another Chris Martin lyric. It's kind of easy when you're in the swing of it.)
Questions aside, I soon started thinking, inevitably, about what kind of punctuation I would like to be.
In the end, I settled on an ellipsis.
Dot dot dot. I didn’t even know what it was called and had to look it up. As wikipedia tells me:
Ellipsis (plural ellipses; from the Ancient Greek ἔλλειψις, élleipsis, "omission" or "falling short") is a series of marks that usually indicate an intentional omission of a word, sentence or whole section from the original text being quoted. An ellipsis can also be used to indicate an unfinished thought or, at the end of a sentence, a trailing off into silence (aposiopesis). When placed at the beginning or end of a sentence, the ellipsis can also inspire a feeling of melancholy longing. The ellipsis calls for a slight pause in speech or any other form of text, but it is incorrect to use an ellipses solely to indicate a pause in speech.
I think I want to be an ellipsis in the sense of a trailing off into silence, or an unfinished thought. It's mysterious, as punctuation goes, wouldn't you say? Strong, silent...That seems apt.
Three dots. Always three dots. The fourth dot, appearing at the end of an ellipsis at the end of a sentence, is a full stop . Of course. That’s why MS Word inserts a slightly bigger gap between the third and fourth dot.
I agree with Chris Martin that I wouldn’t want to be anything so definitively final as a full stop, but isn’t a comma a bit wishy-washy? A bit nothing?
A bit like Coldplay?