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#? @!

The Electric Company taught me well. Punctuation certainly is a language unto itself.
September 4, 2007

Seconds after I got off the plane in St. Petersburg, Russia, I entered the immigration line only to find ads like what appears above. When I’ve traveled to Japan with students who don’t know the language, they express a sense of bewilderment from being completely stripped of the ability to read letters. Oddly, everything seems so familiar here in Russia, as the letterforms look vaguely familiar–but not.

I am thankful for the power of punctuation marks. I know that a question or sense of doubt is expressed about “BMW?” … only to be returned with an emphatic response “EBPOC….!” The ad makes me feel desperate to overhear the fictional conversation that has transpired, even though I know that it’s just a simple means to get me to the local dealership. Luckily I can’t drive here …

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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