SHOUTING; emphasis?

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Mon Sep 9 14:21:10 UTC 2002

In a message dated 9/8/02 6:16:47 PM, dave at WILTON.NET writes:

<< Perhaps a better way to state the ALL CAPS = shouting argument is that it
a common practice to use all caps in spam and flame emails. The immediate
visual effect is to put people off and make them disinclined to read what
you have to say in a favorable light (analogous to shouting at them in a
spoken conversation).  >>

Why in the world would anyone want to do "put people off and make them
disinclined to read whatyou have to say in a favorable light"? The message
that MM was replying to was obviously NOT a "flame" or a "spam," so the
conclusion that the caps CONSTITUTED shouting is absurd, it seems to me.

I guess the point that I am trying to make here is really just that
linguistic signs are by and large arbitrary. The difference between caps and
ulc is the difference between marked and unmarked systems. When one sees a
marked system in use, one wonders why. The answer is not necessarily a
knee-jerk response to a convention that grew out of earlier technological
needs ("you are shouting!") and has been perpetuated as a prescriptive rule,
but rather to try to figure out what is really going on. Can anyone REALLY be
"shouting" if he or she does not know that he or she is shouting? I guess
that people sometimes shout unconsciously in their sleep, but it is not easy
to see what the pragmatic equivalent of that would be.

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