It's a nice house.
Four bedrooms, four baths on a 5,535 square-foot lot in Woodbury. It has fireplaces and a large garage.
But is it exclamation-mark nice? According to this enthusiastic MLS description, YES!
"REDUCED AND UNDER $1,000,000! WOW!!!!!!!!!!PREMIUM LOT WITHIN THE WOODBURY NEIGHBORHOOD! GORGEOUS INSIDE AND OUT!!GREAT OPEN VIEWS FROM FRONT! SPECTACULAR ENTERTAINERS BACK YARD!!! REGULAR SALE WITH RELOCATING MOTIVATED SELLER!! GREAT HOOD, GREAT SCHOOLS, GREAT ADDRESS!!!! AGENTS READ CONFIDENTIAL REMARKS!!!! THIS IS THE ONE!!!!!"
That's 10 exclamation marks after "WOW" because nine just wouldn't do, especially when the asking price drops below $1 million.
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The house was originally listed at $1,149,000. Now it's $998,000.
Whether that's something about which to shout is up to the buyer. It's the aggressive use of exclamation marks that raises question marks.
Guardian columnist Stuart Jeffries noticed an uptick in the use of exclamation marks, almost to the point that leaving "!!!" off the end of a sentence in an e-mail suggests the sender might be an awful person -- the kind of person that says, "Thanks" instead of "Thanks!!!"
In his April 29 column, Jeffries wrote:
"...exclamation marks - those forms of punctuation derided by the funless and fastidious - are making a comeback, thanks to an internet renaissance that is bleeding over into every form of written communication. Once it was bad form to end a paragraph with an exclamation mark. Now it's borderline obligatory. Once it was enough to put a sign on your door: 'Back in five minutes.' Now, without the flourish of an exclamation mark, that sign lacks verve or at least zeitgeisty voguishness. Go figure!"
It's enough to have made F. Scott Fitzgerald scream.
"Cut out all those exclamation marks," Fitzgerald said, apparently in a tone so calm his statement required only a period. "An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own jokes."
But a lot has changed since "The Great Gatsby," which includes an exclamation mark in Chapter 6, was published in 1925. In "Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home," published in 2008, the exclamation mark's popularity is attributed to technology.
Authors David Shipley, comment editor for the New York Times, and Will Schwalbe claim that "!!!" conveys a different meaning than a period. "I'll see you later!!!" might suggest the sender is looking forward to the meeting. But a simple "I'll see you later" might not convey the same level of interest.
Jeffries isn't buying all that.
"Shipley and Schwalbe are right when they say a sentence without exclamation marks is less friendly than one with at least two. When, though, did friendliness become the arbiter of orthographic etiquette? There is surely a point after which exclamation marks no longer express friendliness. In this post-literal time, exclamation marks become signs of sarcasm as witty correspondents rebel against their overuse."
But seriously, that's a pretty nice house... period.