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No Punctuation Period

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"and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes."
James Joyce, Ulysses note 

So youve found what seems to be a good fanfic You havent started reading it yet but its got a good description and better yet your OTP is in it Of course you have to read it Thusly you click on it and beg Wait um what is this Where are the periods The question marks Exclamation points Oh god no commas or colons No No Noooooooooooooo

This poor writer doesn't just use punctuation sporadically — there's no punctuation, period. When taken to extremes it can result in a visual Wall of Text, thus adding to its unreadability. Sadly, this happens outside of Fan Fics too, as many tropers could tell you. There are a few havens of good style, some brave tropers among them, who have taken up arms to fight back the scourge of illiteracy.

Given that periods are not required in written Japanese, a lot of scanlations are prone to this. Or else! They will end every sentence the same way! Usually with an exclamation mark! Even when it makes no sense! And when it reduces the impact of sentences that actually had an exclamation mark in Japanese!

Often goes hand in hand with all lowercase letters. Has absolutely nothing to do with No Periods, Period or Zero Punctuation. Related to Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma.

Sometimes, though, no punctuation is funnier. Contrast Punctuation Shaker.


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    Comic Books 
  • A rather unusual characteristic of comic books from the Silver Age and forward, particularly those from DC (although Marvel got in its share in 1971), is a complete lack of any punctuation other than exclamation points and question marks. In the beginning it was because the low-quality paper stock would render any small marks, like periods or commas, invisible or illegible. As it stands, the omission of periods and the use of all caps is a stylistic choice, not practiced by all letterers. The dialog is instead structured by comic's own unique punctuation mark, the speech balloon, which provides flow and rhythm via spacial placement, as well as other tone information.
  • Similar things pop in up Archie Comics, so that every sentence tends to end with an exclamation point. It appears that Riverdale is full of people with no inside voices. Gold Key Comics' dialogue balloons were notorious for ending every sentence with an exclamation mark, even if the balloon contains some five sentences.

    Comic Strips 
  • The speech balloons in Garfield never end with a period. They end only with an exclamation point, question mark, or a dash to indicate interruption. Sentences that do not terminate with the end of a speech balloon would have normal punctuation.
  • Some comics, like Peanuts, often would not end a sentence (or last sentence if there were more than one) with any punctuation.
    • Speaking of Peanuts, Charles Schulz also routinely ended sentences with ellipses (of anywhere from two to seven dots) in lieu of periods.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • The subtitles on the Spirited Away DVD never have periods — unless they have ellipses, exclamation or question marks, it's nothing.

  • One practice of modern poetry is to dispense with punctuation. The most famous example is E. E. Cummings.
  • Can also be done for stylistic reasons: viz., the last chapter of Ulysses. Well, it has one period somewhere in the middle, and one at the end (said by some to indicate an orgasm). Supposedly Joyce did this to imitate his wife's letters, which were written that way, per a technique used to teach less well-off girls in Ireland at that time to write.
  • There's an early 19th-century satirical work by eccentric but extremely successful businessman Lord Timothy Dexter called A Pickle for the Knowing Ones, which was at one point published without punctuation ("stops"), and had all of the missing marks in an appendix, with a note about how readers could sprinkle them through the text as they desired. The first editions didn't have the punctuation page; it was added as a Take That! in later ones.
  • David Mayne's The Book Of Samson only has two commas in the entire novel. (Although other punctuation marks are used.)
  • The fiction of Portuguese novelist José Saramago features only periods and commas, and nothing more. Furthermore, there's no indication of dialogue or who's talking what, except that each piece of dialogue starts with capital letters, just as if it was written normally. Finally, his paragraphs extend over pages. Sweden awarded him the Nobel Prize in Literature. The thing is, he pulls it off. After the first few pages, it stops being difficult to follow, and he uses it effectively to set his tone.
  • Kind of justified examples can be found quite commonly in older novels and such works, where the current rules of grammar and spelling were non-existent at the time, and hence the punctuation (and general spelling/grammar) is all over the place. Pretty much the entirety of Robinson Crusoe is a good example of this, although there are many others.
  • "On The Train" by Olga Masters is one of the most egregious examples. Despite the majority of the punctuation being relatively correct, the story contained no commas whatsoever.
  • The entirety of the original Italian text of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose was written without a single semi-colon. This had critics wondering, until the author admitted that it had been written on a typewriter without such a key and he didn't like to backspace and put a comma over a colon.
  • Oh, Cormac McCarthy, why do you hate quotation marks so?
  • William H. Gass also doesn't seem too fond of quotation marks, which makes parts of Omensetter's Luck and The Tunnel even more difficult to make sense of. Great books, though.
  • The second part of The Sound and the Fury, narrated by a somewhat unstable Quentin, gradually discards all grammar and punctuation and devolves into a single run-on sentence that goes on for pages.
  • "The Idea of Perfection" by Kate Grenville doesn't use quotation marks. It's still a fantastic read.
  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros never, ever seems to use quotation marks. You have to figure out who's talking. She also does not use quotation marks in her book Caramelo, using dashes instead.
  • Same with Cry, the Beloved Country, in imitation of the King James Bible. Justified since the main character is a preacher.
  • Justified in the archy and mehitabel poems by Don Marquis: Archy is a cockroach who writes by jumping headfirst onto the keys of Marquis's typewriter. This means he can't type anything that requires holding down the shift key.
  • There is a lack of punctuation throughout Guitar Highway Rose, depending on whose point of view the section is from. This makes dialogue very confusing at times.
  • Alan Paton, author of "Cry, the Beloved Country", apparently dislikes quotation marks, instead using an en dash at the beginning of a paragraph to indicate someone is speaking.
    • So did James Joyce, and this is standard practice in a lot of French-language fiction, to the point that it's called "Franco-Joycean quotation". Joyce felt the quotation marks were distracting clutter, and got really mad at one printer who changed all his dialogue to the usual style.
    • William Gaddis did this as well. In The Recognitions it's easy to follow, but in J R and A Frolic of His Own he dispensed with even identifying who was speaking and constructed most of the text out of dialogue, which makes the books substantially more difficult to read (done deliberately so as to mimic Gaddis' view of contemporary society, "a chaos of disconnections, a blizzard of noise"). Fortunately, most of the important characters have distinctive methods of speaking, or the books would probably be unreadable. It's probably worth noting that he won the National Book Award for each of the latter two books.
  • The book The Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard never uses quotation marks when anyone is speaking. In fact, the only time quotation marks are used is when another author's poem is quoted.
  • Trainspotting has different punctuation rules based on the point-of-view character. Each chapter is from a different perspective. Some of the narrators are better about it than others.
  • The book The Fortelling doesn't use any quotation marks in the entire novel. This makes it hard sometimes to know where dialogue starts and stops.
  • That moment in Con el Diablo en los Talones when Camilo slips into Motor Mouth mode:
    —Japanese and South Korean scientists have created a female mouse without a father using genetically modified ovules from two different mothers!—said Camilo, like a machine gun burst, without periods or commas or anything.
  • Some of the chapters narrated by Buck Loner in Myra Breckinridge are like this, to reflect that he's talking into a dictaphone.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Timescape", Captain Picard relates a story of Doctor Vassbinder at a conference, who gave a long dissertation on one subject when it should have been a completely different one. When asked why no one reminded him, Picard responds "There was no opportunity, there was no pause, He-just-kept-talking-in-one-long-incredibly-unbroken-sentence-moving-from-topic-to-topic-so-that-no-one-had-a-chance-to-interrupt-it-was-really-quite-hypnotic.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Dwarven language contains little punctuation, just red highlighting for important words (known as rubrication in real life) and slashes between sentences.
    • While it is not explicitly stated that the source text lacked punctuation, the backstory of the Forgotten Realms features a disagreement between translators over where punctuation should go in a prophetic text (and therefore where two sentences would end and begin), heavily implying this. This turns out to be rather important, as while there's no indication the prophecy actually told the future, one of the adherents of putting the punctuation earlier decided to make that interpretation come true.


    Video Games 
  • Breath of Fire:
    • Breath of Fire III: When the last word in a text box is also the end of a sentence, it never ends in a period. It's an exclamation point, a question mark, an ellipsis or nothing.
    • Breath of Fire and Breath of Fire II both did the same thing, which makes one wonder whether this was actually a mistake or done for stylistic reasons. The latter seems like the obvious choice on paper, but reading the in-game dialogue brings significant doubt to this theory.
  • Every sentence in the original Japanese Pokémon games ends in either an exclamation point, question mark, or ellipses. One with a period was finally added for Pokémon Gold and Silver; it describes what happens when a Pokémon uses the move "Splash" (nothing).
  • Another professional example: in Xenogears, even though the dialogue was very colorful with all sorts of things (intentional misspellings not included), some sentences do not have periods, possibly due to the "Blind Idiot" Translation.
  • Rin's rambling in Katawa Shoujo is written like this. In one massive Wall of Text.
  • Vell-os telepathy in Escape Velocity Nova (which is text-only for dialog) is depicted with no punctuation or capitalization.

    Web Comics 
  • Roast Beef of Achewood (and Nice Pete as well)'s speech balloons have a lower sized font than the rest of the comic's population, and no punctuation. Presumably this reflects a quiet, flat tone of voice. Exemplified in Roast Beef's blog.
  • Homestuck has several characters typing like this.
    • Dave Strider and Aradia Megido type with no punctuation, but split the text up so a period equals a new line.
    • Nepeta Leijon and Terezi Pyrope only use exclamation and question marks.
    • Kanaya Maryam doesn't use punctuation, but continues at the next line each time punctuation is required.
    • Equius Zahhak doesn't use any punctuation except commas.
    • Eridan Ampora not only doesn't use punctuation, he often types multiple sentences on one line.
    • Inverted by uu (undyingUmbrage aka Caliborn): he uses periods instead of commas, plus anywhere else he feels like.
    • Jake English uses punctuation at the end of his sentences, but not in the middle.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Thog speak like this and every other orc too.

    Web Original 
  • Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw was told that his rapidly-narrated reviews sound like they have no punctuation, and so they were named Zero Punctuation. One review shows what is apparently his script. It seems to consist mostly of long sentences with no commas.
  • This sometimes happens with TV Tropes examples
  • YouTube video captions generated using their Transcribe Audio feature are often like this.

    Web Video 
  • Technology Connections: In "Closed Captioning: More Ingenious than You Know", Alec mocks YouTube's captions for not adding any punctuation with a run-on sentence.
    Alec: By hitting [the closed captioning] button, your device will start displaying the text metadata embedded in the video stream that either YouTube has auto-generated, or that super awesome content creators like myself have put in so that you don't have to simply watch a stream of unpunctuated words flow by like the world's largest run on sentence that never ends and which often contains incorrect words because the captioning system isn't quite perfect and that while useful as a tool could really use... (jokes sometimes end up here, too!)
    Text: This went on for some time...

    Real Life 
  • In a wholly justified example, the ancient Romans didn't use punctuation as we know it, so the Classical period was a No Punctuation Period for Latin literature. As a result, modern-day Latinists can't trust the punctuation that has long since been added to the vast majority of Latin literature which has been transmitted through the centuries via copied and recopied manuscripts.
  • For that matter, Greek and the other languages of the day had similar problems. And they did not put spaces between words, either. And scribes misspelled or transposed words. Let's just say there are a lot of headaches involved with the text of certain works even when they have come down whole. Early Greek and Latin writings did use word dividers (in Classical Latin it was an interpunct dot) but they were done away with later on.
  • For those who want a bit more concrete an example: The New Testament is, in fact, one of the best preserved manuscripts — many copies and fragments of copies have survived, and most of the oldest ones have surfaced in the last century. On a collated text — one created by combining every copy available — it is pretty much impossible to find a page where there isn't anything footnoted with an explanation of why they chose the version they did and what the variants were, in space-saving standardized code. (And this is also a text that was usually proofread, as evidenced by some copies having corrections; apparently it was suspected that God might be a Grammar Nazi.)
    • The different readings of punctuation can be important; a significant difference between the Catholic and Protestant churches is derived from whether Jesus said "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise," or "Amen, I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise."
    • The King James Version and several other Bible translations have a whole load of words in italics, seemingly at random, because translators added those words to make the text work under English grammar. Some [other] translations use [square] brackets instead to denote insertions. Adding these words appears to explicitly endorse one of a range of possible readings of the original text.
  • And all of the above instances can be derived from the fact that true spoken language contains very few punctuation marks anyway. As a test, try recording and transcribing five minutes of casual conversation (especially between children), and try to find where to put the full stops. Alternatively, write a speech, then read it, and try to make it sound natural while maintaining the exact punctuation you used when writing.
    • A place this comes up a lot is in the law, where transcripts of oral proceedings—trials, motion hearings, depositions, and so on—have to accurately reflect what was said at the proceeding. Even though the relative formality of oral legal proceedings and the parties' consciousness that there will be a transcript tend to create more natural breaks, the raw text can still be hard to read, and the transcriber has to make a lot of executive decisions about where to put punctuation.
    • Interestingly, reading the Greek and Latin examples above was more like reading sheet music than a book. The reader would have already practised reading the text aloud and would use the scroll as a cue sheet — the reading itself was akin to a recital.
  • Written Japanese, particularly in formal context (i.e. journals, newspapers, etc.), does not bother with a lot of punctuation. Native Japanese only has a period and a comma and doesn't use spaces, because kanji are more useful in setting word boundaries. Punctuation like exclamation or question marks may be employed to add emphasis, but they are not necessary and will make the text seems informal. You will never find them in an academic journal, unless they are used as part of examples.
    • The absence of punctuation is justified because Japanese has punctuation... words. That's right. Some Japanese particles are used in the way that punctuation is used in English. Adding "ka" at the end of a word, for example, is used in questions: "Kore wa hon desu" means "This is a book", while "Kore wa hon desu ka" means "Is this a book?". Exclamation is a bit more complex, since there is no single way to mark a sentence as an exclamation. One way to do it is by adding "yo" at the end of sentences, but this requires context. "Kore wa hon desu yo" can both mean "This is a book!" and "This is a book, you know". Or in the case of verbs, using their imperative forms: "Tomaru" means "Stop", while "Tomare" means "Stop!" (the opposite is "Tomaruna", which means "Don't stop!").
      • In fact, often they'll actually end such sentences with periods: "Kore wa hon desu ka." means "Is this a book?" and not "Is this a book."
      • Confusingly, when question marks are employed, they are sometimes used merely to mark a rise in tone at the end of a sentence. "Watashi wa takoyaki ga suki desu yo?" is not a question. It means something along the lines of "I like takoyaki, you know?". Again, it all boils down to context.
    • Interestingly, while things like question marks are considered informal, punctuation marks which look informal in English such as ellipsis (…) and interpunct (・) are considered formal in Japanese and used in newspapers. Interpunct is important to set word boundaries in texts written in katakana, such as foreign names and places, and basically functions like spaces in English.
    • In fact, originally punctuation didn't even exist in Japanese (it was imported in the early 20th century). In bungo, the old form of written Japanese, the form of the verb differed depending on its position in the sentence. If it determined a following noun, it was in rentaikei (the cat sleeping here > koko de nuru neko); if it ended the sentence, it was in shūshikei (the cat sleeps here > neko ha koko de nu). However, bungo fell out of use at the turn of the 20th century because of its increasingly absurd divergence with spoken Japanese — imagine 1890 British people speaking more or less in modern English but still writing like Shakespeare. Since modern Japanese no longer has that distinction, punctuation may have been a way to compensate.
  • Also with Classical Chinese, where punctuation is never used. This has led to a type of exam question where the student is presented with a block of text and is required to add the punctuation. This is made easier by the fact that in Classical Chinese, there are certain words that essentially serve as spoken punctuation, and Classical literature is written in a highly rhythmic and formalized style, finding the places to pause tend to come naturally after one reads the passages a few times.
  • Biblical Hebrew had no punctuation, and no vowels. This means that you had to know the words to be able to read the text, and that since many words were identical except in vowels, there are many ambiguities. The fact that you're not supposed to say the True Name of the LORD ("YHWH", also known as "The Tetragrammaton") except on special occasions is conveniently reinforced by the fact that its pronunciation has actually been lost, so we couldn't say it even if we wanted. It's guessed that it's Yahweh, or is just read with the vowels from adonai (the Hebrew word for "lord" or "ruler").
  • It is specifically to reduce these ambiguities that Hebrew and Arabic have methods of writing vowels at all — the structure of the languages are such that they're pretty much readable without short vowels (mn lngwgs 'r 'ctll ths wy t sm dgry), but people came up with vowel "points" (symbols above and below the letters) to eliminate any questions that might arise through this omission. Most non-religious texts still leave them out. In sections of the Talmud dealing with specific Biblical verses, the authors will frequently point out that some relevant word, if pronounced with different vowel sounds, can mean something completely different, and this is used as a way to tease out hidden levels of meaning embedded in the text. Relatedly, the fact that a reader has to know the words already in order to read the text is sometimes given as evidence of the existence of a parallel oral tradition that was given in conjunction to, and simultaneously with, the written text - since the written text on its own is unreadable (or at least hopelessly ambiguous) without some sort of extra-textual instructions for pronunciation.
  • Joined-up alphabets such as Arabic and cursive English often contain many pairs or sets of letters which are mostly, or completely, identical except for the placement of dots meant to distinguish them. Originally, these dots weren't there. This meant you often couldn't tell, except by already knowing the words and judging from context, if a given Arabic letter was (for example) an F or Q, or in the worst possible case, a B, T, TH, N, or Y. English is not as susceptible, but it still has U vs. II, and I vs. T. (And, depending on Font used capital I and lowercase L.)
  • Well known Dutch football (that's soccer for you in the US of A) commentator Willem van Hanegem struggles and has fun with this. One of his friends had the following anecdote.
    Willem often sent me letter back in the day. Often, the punctuation was off. One time, he sent over a letter which was just one long sentence, going on and on. He ended the letter with a bunch of dots and commas and a post scriptum: "My friend, please see fit to fill in all the dots and commas where you think they might look nice.