Recently, I traded up from my nowhere-near-smart phone to a slightly more advanced (but still nearly obsolete) phone — one maybe about a year newer (in terms of technological endowment) than the old one.
Practically, what this means is that I am now able not only to receive text messages, but also to send them. And, tremendous Luddite though I am, I have discovered contexts in which sending a text message actually seem reasonable (e.g., to contact a fellow conference-goer in the morning after a night of conference-carousing, when a phone call might interrupt sleep or networking or something else important).
However, I’ve run into an unforeseen complication:
I cannot figure out which of the buttons on this old phone will render a question mark.
This presents me with a stark choice: either ending questions with non-optimal punctuation (like a period) and hoping that their wording is enough to convey that I’m asking a question, or embedding my question in a declarative or imperative sentence.
I want to ask you whether you will be attending the 9 am panel after that late night at the bar. But I cannot, for want of a question mark.
Perhaps this phone wants me to be less inquisitive, or to live with uncertainty. However, I am reluctant to concede that this phone is the boss of me.
I want to ask if that is wrong, but my phone will not let me.