How would you feel if someone sends you a message with a full stop?
Do you need to worry and immediately re-run your recent conversation?
According to an internet linguist, the simple punctuation mark is considered ‘passive aggressive’ in the messaging world.
Gretchen McCulloch, from Montreal, Quebec, has written a book on the rules of internet language. She says many people perceive ending a text with a full stop as rude.
She told the BBC, ‘If you’re a young person and you’re sending a message to someone, the default way to break up your thoughts is to send each thought as a new message.’
‘Because the minimum thing necessary to send is the message itself, anything additional you include can take on an additional interpretation.’
Another study carried out by Binghamton University in 2015 took 126 undergraduates into consideration and claimed that the text messages that ended in a full stop are considered less sincere than the exact same messages without the punctuation mark.
Celia Klin, who led the study, concluded: ‘Texting is lacking many of the social cues used in actual face-to-face conversations.
‘When speaking, people easily convey social and emotional information with eye gaze, facial expressions, tone of voice, pauses, and so on.
‘People obviously can’t use these mechanisms when they are texting. Thus, it makes sense that texters rely on what they have available to them — emoticons, deliberate misspellings that mimic speech sounds and, according to our data, punctuation.’
Gretchen further explained that in spoken speech, a full stop usually symbolizes the lowering of the voice. And therefore carries an air of formality. On a text message, people use the full stop if they have an intention to be serious.
Gretchen says, ‘The problem comes when you have a positive message with the seriousness of the full stop.’
‘It’s the juxtaposition of those things which creates that sense of passive aggression.’
Erika Darics, a lecturer in linguistics at Aston University in Birmingham has a different notion on this. She suggested, ‘If you and your friends don’t normally use full stops in a WhatsApp group and then somebody does, they are probably trying to tell you something about how they feel.’
‘Things like emojis raise awareness of language and can help us understand subtleties in other types of communication, like politics or propaganda,’ she told the BBC.
‘It encourages linguistic creativity.’
Source – Daily Mail