Strange News


OK. If the latest in electronic running gear isn't geeky enough for you, maybe our next interview will bring out your inner nerd. In case you missed it - and let's face it, you probably did - yesterday was National Punctuation Day. Full stop. And we've - apostrophe there between the E and the V, please - got its -no apostrophe there - founder, comma, Jeff Rubin. And I'll stop there. He joins us from member station KQED in San Francisco.

Jeff Rubin, thanks for coming in.

Mr. JEFF RUBIN (Founder, National Punctuation Day): Oh, thank you. And I love all nerds, especially language nerds.

KELLY: Well, tell us, how does one celebrate National Punctuation Day? Are there certain rituals? Hanging commas from punctuation trees? How does it work?

Mr. RUBIN: Well, the ritual celebration for me is how I started the day yesterday, with a bagel and a cup of coffee, reading the newspaper with a red Sharpie in my hand, redlining all the mistakes. It's...

KELLY: Which paper are you reading?

Mr. RUBIN: The San Francisco Chronicle, which yesterday ran a story about a mother who was trying to teach her child to spell properly and said, What's the point? She's going to be text messaging in two years anyway.

KELLY: One of your pet peeves, I assume.

Mr. RUBIN: It's not quite the end of civilization as we know it, but it's just one more step.

KELLY: What is your biggest punctuation pet peeve, Jeff Rubin?

Mr. RUBIN: It's people who make up their own style. Just a couple of days ago I was in a business meeting, and I was telling people about National Punctuation Day. And he announced that he likes to put the commas and the periods outside of a closing quotation mark. I said that's fine if you live in England, but we live in the United States and we just don't do that here. And he says, well, I think it's a choice rather than a rule. So I will choose not to recommend him to my customers.

(Soundbite of laughter)

KELLY: A thumbs down on that one.

Mr. RUBIN: Thumbs down on him.

KELLY: I understand you have a website. And you asked some of the readers of that website to send in their own pictures of egregious punctuation that they have seen out there. Any zingers come in lately?

Mr. RUBIN: Oh, they just keep coming and coming. There was one from the Feast of San Gennaro, which is a big event in Little Italy in Manhattan. And it said Fried Oreo's, meaning the cookie, O-R-E-O, apostrophe S.

KELLY: Heresy.

Mr. RUBIN: Yes, it is. I get asked all the time, who cares? I get hundreds and hundreds of emails from people who do care - teachers, attorneys, journalists, parents. Those are the folks who are going to make a difference. I'm just the messenger who brings awareness to people. I don't know if I will be triumphant, but I will soldier on.

KELLY: Jeff Rubin, he's the founder of National Punctuation Day, and he's been speaking with us from San Francisco. Thanks a lot.

Mr. RUBIN: Oh, my pleasure. Thank you.

(Soundbite of song)

Unidentified People: (Rapping) Punc - punc - punctuation. Punc - punc -punctuation. I'm a question mark. What do I do? I'm at the end of each question, like, where, what or who. Punc - punc - punctuation.

KELLY: This NPR News.

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