Donald Trump, Jr. made headlines this week with his latest email scandal: saying he would “love” to meet with a Russian government lawyer regarding incriminating information about Hillary Clinton. The irony being that this was in an email.
Except, wait a second. Can we get a closer look at that?
…that’s a whole lot of punctuation in one small space.
It’s one thing when the same word gets used twice in a row, or when you have three homonyms back to back to back. But three unrelated punctuation marks in a row?
It’s even more than that. It sort of hurts our feelings.
We know how the Tweeter-In-Chief himself would address this.
“The reasoning for the punctuation of “Jr.,’s” is pretty straightforward. It’s a collision of conventions. The first convention is The New Yorker’s—we place a comma before “Jr.” Doing so leads to another of our conventions: when something like “Jr.” occurs in the middle of a phrase, clause, or sentence, it is set off by its preceding comma and a following comma. Thus: “Ed Begley, Jr., was in ‘St. Elsewhere.’ ” A third convention is one that we all accept: the possessive is indicated by the addition of an apostrophe and “s.” We (the magazine) like our punctuation; we set things off with commas a lot; it drives some people nuts (i.e., it’s “bullshit”). This reaction is not surprising; it is also not new. With “Jr.” occurring in the middle of a line, where else is the possessive indicator supposed to go? This styling doesn’t come up very often in the magazine, and its occurrence in a headline of sorts has brought it a weird kind of notoriety. Now it can comfortably stand alongside the diaeresis and “focussing.”
This doesn’t stress us out any less.