On Grammar, Punctuation, and the Mating Rituals of Birds

Occasionally, in nature, male birds engage in ostentatious displays—flirtatious and complex performances—designed to win the admiration of a highly attractive female partner. These brash, often excessive displays can take many forms: visual, as in the brightly coloured plumage of the male peacock; auditory, as in the lyrebird; and/or kinetic (i.e., movement-based), as in the case of albatrosses’ mating dances. ¶Such displays are often what I’d call “needlessly ‘elaborate’,” but they’re not just a reproductive device: they’re there to excite their two participants, too!

Could such mating displays really extend to the realm of grammar & punctuation as well‽ ←This happy little guy, the suggestively-named “interrobang,” seems to suggest so…


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