We often take it for granted perhaps because of the low level of awareness or outright ignorance of the importance attached to punctuation marks. I can state authoritatively here that many have failed simple test in essay writing owing largely to their in ability to mark off units of utterances from one form to the other, either to show their grammatical relationship or give them emphasis. According to the experts, the definition of punctuation varies; some have defined punctuation as the use of certain marks to make plain, the sense or meaning of what one passes on to the reading or listening publics. Others simply say it is the soul and life of any imaginative and creative writing. Without the punctuation marks inserted in the right place the message could be said to have been lost. Little wonder emphasize is placed on the use of punctuation marks, at least for the good writer, to make plain his or her thought and for the sake of clarity and precision.
For example, correct pronunciation marks, particularly comas and periods are freely used in order not to mislead the audience. Aside from the fact that punctuation supports one’s writing by preventing misleading information, on the other hand, incorrect punctuations, the masters and purists argued, most often than not, send the reader or listener the message that the writer does not intend to convey. However for the professional broadcaster or radio and television producer, some of these punctuation marks or signs have other meanings more than just for the sake of clarity and precision. Punctuation marks are generously employed when translated into operational audio editing meanings in studio management. But that is not our concern for now.
Our focus for now is how to use these punctuation marks to improve our writing skills. As mentioned earlier, the dominant punctuation marks to make plain our writings include, comas, periods, colon, semi colon and of course, the almighty apostrophe (‘) used to indicate the possessive noun, to shorten or contract a sentence. One can correctly write, for example, John’s note book, ‘don’t’ for ‘do not.’ Apostrophe (‘)-in English indicates the possessive noun in names as in John’s note book and to break a sentence as in ‘don’t’ for ‘do not.’ It is however argued that in formal writing contractions such as ‘don’t’ ‘couldn’t,’ ‘shouldn’t,’ should be discountenanced as it shows arrogance and lack of respect.
Instead, write it in full, ‘do not,’ ‘could not,’ and ‘should not’ are preferable as a sign of respect. Period (.) the period or full stop in the language means the end of a declarative statement or direct question. It helps the presenter on radio and television especially, to pause, take enough breath and then continue. To the editing studio manager, the pause following a long sentence is a long one before the next audio sentence that follows. The coma (,) separates a short pause in audio editing and also determines the meaning, pitch, tone and colour of the programme on radio and television. Semi colon (;) in English, the semi colon is majorly used to separate independent clauses that are not linked together by coordinating conjunction. In writing for radio and television, what follows a colon is short stop.
For the radio and television writer or reporter, all these punctuation marks, when observed to the letter, send a full script presentation to the listening audience, which is the essence of broadcasting. Even for the non-broadcaster one can learn some hard lessons from this. That the writer, journalist or the reporter should mark his or her script with the appropriate punctuation is not a matter of choice but of absolute necessity to avoid being misunderstood. Again, punctuation marks inserted in the right place enhances clarity and precision for easy reading. Write plainly; Keep it short and simple with punctuation marks as the golden rule which should be observed to the letter, the masters and purists of the language insist.