Necessity is the mother of longer text messages?

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.

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Q:Maybe preface question texts with Q:

You don't give a lot of information to go on, but on my ancient phone, you cycle through punctuation marks with the 1 key.

<comma> <space> <e> <h>

By D. C. Sessions (not verified) on 30 Jun 2010 #permalink

I should perhaps not tell you this, but there is a secret resource known only to the inner cabal of techno-nerds like myself. A resource hidden in plain sight, and one of the reasons geeks like myself can exhibit the occasional inexplicable feat of technology.

It's called "a manual". Few people seem to know about it, I know, and even fewer will ever try to make use of it. A mystical tome of deep secrets, tailored for the specific device you just bought. Wrapped in plastic, hidden in the pile of installation CD's, warranty cards and mysterious stickers that you normally throw right into the back of the closet. Even better, if you've lost the original, you can simply search for " manual" and more likely than not you'll find it, in any language of your choice.

Seriously, we all tend to overlook the manual. I know I do, far too often. But a lot of this kind of issues are actually covered in them, and while it's not as much fun as spending half a day figuring it out on your own, looking it up there is a lot faster.

google your phone model and the question.