You might remember the discussion we had last year about the peculiar usage of the exclamation “!” and other punctuation marks in modern mandarin. I bring this up again because in yesterday’s news there was a remarkable piece of writing that illustrates the phenomenon. Interesting too because the author is an admired member of the internet elite, speaker of English and used to working with foreigners: none other than Jack Ma, the founder of the Alibaba empire.
You can read all about it in this Forbes blog post. To make a long story short: Mr. Ma was slightly annoyed when he found that dozens of his employees were using the company to collude with outside swindlers, and he wrote a circular letter containing, in its Chinese original:
– 11 periods
– 21 exclamation marks.
In the first half of the letter it is even more pronounced, with a total of 12 exclamations for only 4 periods, and then those 4 look like they’ve been forgotten there at the end of the paragraphs. Continue…