Full Stops Can Annoy Gen Z, Warn Linguists.

According to linguistic experts, young people often feel intimidated by the use of full stops in social media communication. This punctuation is often interpreted as a signal of anger, particularly among teenagers and those in their early twenties, known as Generation Z, who are more used to sending short messages without the use of full stops. Additionally, a study conducted at Binghamton University in New York indicated that individuals who conclude their messages with full stops may be perceived as insincere.

Now, language experts are trying to figure out why teens see a properly punctuated text as a sign that someone is irritated.

The discussion started again when writer Rhiannon Cosslett tweeted: “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. ”

Many Twitter users found this hard to believe, and one person even accused her of being overly sensitive, despite her own use of a full stop.

Crime novelist Sophie Hannah responded: ‘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”.’

Experts explain that young people who are used to communicating electronically often prefer to break up their thoughts by sending each one as a separate message instead of using a full stop. They reserve full stops to indicate annoyance or irritation.

Some argue that using a full stop in texting is unnecessary because simply sending the message already indicates its conclusion.

According to The Telegraph, Linguist Dr. Lauren Fonteyn from Leiden University in Holland tweeted: “If you send a text message without a full stop, it’s already obvious that you’ve concluded the message.”

Adding that extra marker for completion may lead them to interpret it as a falling intonation or negative tone.

Owen McArdle, a linguist from the University of Cambridge, told the newspaper: “I’m not entirely convinced about emails. I suppose it depends on 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.”

The possible shift in the meaning of the full stop concerning online communication has been a topic of debate among linguists for many years.

Professor David Crystal, a renowned language expert, suggests that the use of full stops is undergoing a significant revision. In his book “Making a Point,” he proposes that the punctuation mark is now functioning as an “emotion marker,” signaling to the recipient that the sender is upset or irritated.

Crystal writes: “You look at the internet or any instant messaging exchange – anything that is a fast dialogue taking place. People simply do not put full stops in, unless they want to make a point. The full stop is now being used in those circumstances as an emotion marker.”

In 2015, a study by Binghamton University in New York suggested that individuals who conclude their messages with full stops are considered insincere.

The study, which involved 126 undergraduates, revealed that text messages ending with a full stop, such as ‘lol.’, ‘let’s go to Nando’s.’, or ‘send nudes.’, were perceived as less genuine. Interestingly, texts ending with an exclamation point, like ‘lmao!’, ‘just a cheeky one!’, or ‘what body part even is that? I hope it’s your arm!’, were considered heartfelt or more profound.

At the time, research leader Celia Klin remarked: “‘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.’ 

The use of the full stop originates from Greek punctuation, which Aristophanes of Byzantium introduced in the 3rd century BC.

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