Dad, doing what he does best

30 03 2008

Below is an e-mail from my Dad on 3.31.2006, in reference to me wanting to use the occasional exclamation mark for emphasis in my letters (when I want to show excitement). Although I break his exclamation point ruling from the time to time, I should get a gold star for not overdoing it by putting !!! at the end of a sentence…that just shows too much excitement, in my humble opinion. One is enough for me.


Hey, I have no problem with your using the exclamation point after “eureka.”

In the Grecian language eureka means, “I have found it,” and was said to have been uttered by the great Pythagoras on his invention of the 47th Problem of Euclid, a process of measuring distance through triangulation (the Pythagorean Theorem). The measurement process is also known as the Egyptian string trick, not to be confused, of course, with similar knotted items (strings of pearls, beads, anchor chains, etc.) referenced in the Kama Sutra, and in the works of the Marquis de Sade and others of his ilk).

It is probable that Pythagoras did in fact exclaim “Eureka” on his discovery, and then he probably followed up with a passionate, even shouted, “Exclamation point.” The actual symbol used to punctuate an exclamation (!) was probably developed by a linguist (or linguists) at a later date.

It’s well to note that anytime one exclaims, the exclamation may (but not necessarily must) be followed by an exclamation point. I am unsure as to which punctuation mark should follow an utterance—perhaps an exclamation begins life as an utterance, then progresses to an exclamation, thereby earning the right to an exclamation point.

You may have already been familiar with Pythagoras and his theorem, but you may not be aware that Pythagoras, on his discovery of the 47th Problem of Euclid, is said to have celebrated and memoralized his momentous feat by sacrificing a hecatomb (100) of cattle.

They must have had one hell of a barbeque!



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