I read to you: “Punctuations and the Mess of Usage”

The school taught us, at one time, things simply and without complication, and we graduated while we understood what the teachers taught us, and applied it smoothly. But we were not completely at peace with him; Because we lived in a confusing time, in which the mingling of the insatiable and the virtuous, and the claim of knowledge, and the half-writers, and the half-teachers, and distortions in writing and in learning, alike.

The school taught us that punctuation has precise signs of purpose and use, and it was similar to traffic signs, there is no difference in them. Yes, he enjoys the meaning, and it enters his mind piece by piece with ease; The meanings are dissolved and understood without much trouble, with connection, separation and interdependence, as if it resembles the mare of Imru’ al-Qays, who is described as “a future mastermind.” Punctuation marks were really friendly to readers, beacons of guidance to them, and to writers they were interesting factors.

In the textbooks everything was beautiful, even though it was heavy and hard, it was hardly “light-blooded”. I think so now, and the distance between that time and this time is far. Today, textbooks are a miserable workmanship, with many cognitive problems, adding to confusion and chaos, and from this confusion the confusion of punctuation marks.

There are many reasons for this, the first of which may be that the writers whose texts are adopted in those books are writers who are not good at putting the punctuation mark. Too many dots, too many exclamation marks, too much double marks, writers who set themselves unjustified mercurial rules, confuse authors who, like writers, do not know exactly when punctuation marks are to be used. The original text is like this, and we stick to it. What an excuse worse than a felony murder.

In one of the episodes of “Ladies and Gentlemen” of the Palestinian journalist Aref Hijjawi on Al-Araby TV 2, he stopped at the punctuation marks (the episode was published on June 9, 2022 on the Facebook page of Al-Araby TV 2), and said what he said, and really mixed with falsehood, but he referred to what Ghassan Kanafani had referred to. In his book “Fares Fares” about the misuse of the exclamation mark by writers, Al-Hijjawi said: “Teenagers sprinkle exclamation points in their writings without account. It’s like screaming.”

How many a screaming writer, then, Hijjawi. In my first era of writing, I was also very screaming, I was really a teenager. My friend, writer Madonna Askar, alerted me to that with a nice irony. When she described me as being fond of the exclamation point, I avoided it very much, I mean the punctuation mark, of course, not the friendly writer, and when I issued a book “What looks like lament” I cleaned him of this screaming, but some of the screaming remained on the edges of the camel. its a problem.

Many writers practice this shouting, even the adults, I see exclamation as a sign of poets often in their collections, I did not know why. Ghassan Kanafani ridicules the poets who use the “surprise sign” – the second name of the exclamation mark – out of place: “There are poets – it seems – who admire themselves to the extent that when they write a piece of verse, they immediately put an exclamation mark behind it, as if they were congratulating themselves on their injury. A miracle that no one else could perform or even think of doing.” (See: The book “Fares Fares”, p. 34, Dar Al-Adab, and Ghassan Kanafani Cultural Foundation, Beirut, 1996)

In some Arabic language books in Palestinian school curricula, there is this kind of screaming or miracle-working. This is very confusing as it happens in textbooks, because it only goes according to the psychological meanings that the writer thinks are present in his sentence. What is missing from writers and course authors is that the punctuation mark is for the linguistic style and not for the meaning it performs. This is what these books teach students in its place. The problem that will occur at that, and Al-Hijjawi himself fell into it, in the same circle when he permitted – and I do not know how he can authorize a rule in which he has no powers of legislating – he permitted that the exclamation and question marks meet in the event that the question is denial. Any denial that Al-Hijjawi brought here, there is no evidence for what he says except the meaning of the sentence. If we follow Al-Hijjawi with his illusory hypothesis, every question would have a rhetorical meaning; i.e. not for the purpose of the question, two punctuation marks; One for the style of the question, the other for the accompanying rhetorical meaning, and the chaos will become overwhelming.

In addition to this, Al-Hijjawi makes mistakes in employing the semicolon, and measures Arabic on a language other than Arabic. It is also an undisciplined use of chaos, and it is really confusing, while in Arabic spelling books it is completely clear and easy to use, and Arab students and writers who are glorified in the writing profession did not find it difficult to use, Confusion came to us from the opinions of foreign writers, whom Al-Hijjawi agrees with in what they say unfortunately. One American writer is quoted as saying about the writers who use the semicolon: “The writer puts the semicolon only to prove that he is an academic,” a transfer that suggests that the semicolon is absurd, and there is no need for it. As if it is evidence of deficiency in the writer who proves his academy through its use, and the inability of foreign dictionaries to explain its use – as Al-Hijjawi also transmits about foreigners – does not mean that our Arab scholars do not know the importance of its use and the accuracy of its use. Peace be upon Aaron, and neither Emile Badi` Ya`qub, nor other Arab scholars and grammarians.

In addition, Al-Hijjawi wants the writers to control their consciences, fear God in the poor reader, and lay the foundations for the employment of these signs. Al-Hijjawi here cancels all spelling rules, and says: “There are no fixed rules” for punctuation marks. But the whole issue is related to the arbitration of conscience. It’s a sentence that needs an exclamation point, but I’m not going to put it in until I stay calm, because I don’t like yelling.

This chaos does not concern us, the owners of the Arabic language, its teachers and educators, had it not been for the chaos of use found in school books. For example, authors and writers invented for us the two adjacent points; Once they turn out to be ellipses, and again they replace the comma or the period, and oftentimes they look like a pointless punctuation mark. They are like screaming too, but more than that; It is – the sign of the colon – a patty similar to the Shiite patty on the day of Ashura.

Adolescent writers invented; Running behind the description of Hijawi – as well – numerical binaries; Two punctuation marks together, according to what Al-Hijjawi himself wants to employ in the use of the exclamation and question marks, and once the duplication of repeating the same mark, you find the question mark twice, and sometimes three and four according to the importance of the question and its greatness and horror in the writer himself. Look, you don’t want to count them. Oh my God, how loud that writer’s voice was when he put it down, I fear that his veins will explode from so much screaming. Do you think I need to draw a sign of amazement here too?

For all of this, I say as Aref Hijjawi said – may God forgive him and guide him -: “Fear God in the poor reader,” and I add: Have mercy on the poor student who might read this scream and get confused, how will he use punctuation marks and when, and they killed Abdul Aleem Ibrahim and his book and its rules that were giving us Biblical peace, explanatory contentment, and reading fluency?

May God not have mercy on a time when we were in harmony with the rules of Arabic before sedition reared its head, and as the proverb said: A madman threw a stone into a well… But who can extract it from it? Maybe she needs another lunatic.

I think that the previous paragraph also needs a sign of astonishment, but I will force myself not to put it out of respect for our distinguished sheikhs who taught us the proper use of punctuation marks, so they improved their education.