Dingbats wrote:Other than that, there's a damn lot that writing can't convey that speaking can. You'd need to draw intonation contours over the words or something to even get close. Writing is a retarded cripple compared to speech.
That's the problem. And besides, intonation contours aren't very useful, cause we already know how words sound when put next to other words. Contours just aren't necessary.
Sure, you could just say "I'm off on Thursday, do you want to go out?" That would be flipping it around so that the question would be at the end, no problem. But isn't one of the greatest things about English the diversity? You can say a sentence in tons of different ways. I could spend an hour and probably think of fifteen ways of saying this sentence/question, and each way would be correct. But if I was speaking to someone, I would say the example the way I originally put it. So why can't I write it that way effectively? When you seperate it by a comma, it destroys the questioning tone. And when you separate it by a question mark, it breaks it in two. It's a battle of extremes; not enough intonation, or too much? My little half-mark idea would be the middle ground. When you say "Do you want to go out on Thursday, because I'm off that day?" it changes the way it's said. I like saying it my way, I don't want to have to alter the sentence structure, to be honest. But then if you put "Do you want to go out on Thursday?
, because I'm off that day." then look, huzzah! There's still a sentence at the end! That's the way I want to say that sentence. If you don't have the half-mark there, you'd still understand it, but it's awkward. With the symbol, you can still read it very easily, and there's absolutely no confusion to speak of. It just... flows very well, i think.
Here's the other example: "Utterly useless, or worth looking into?" Completely understandable, but it could be intepreted in several minutely different ways. Then, change it to "Utterly useless?
, or worth looking into?". Ahh, look, now you know without a doubt that there's a question tone on that first part. This, in my opinion, is crafted JUST right. It seems like the perfect way of transcribing what you would say in real life, into words. When you look at the original example, it's just the comma, making it harder to see the question in there. You know, you could do this with exclamations too !
, but it seems harder to make examples for that. So yes, please keep asking questions, I'll be glad to try my inexperienced hand at answering them.