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It may be limited to the web ecosystem, but I've read a lot of those sentences lately, where each word is followed by a period.

Examples:

Oh. My. God.

Best. Job. Ever.

No. F***ing. Way.

Putting each word on its own hints the readers should give their full attention to each and every one of them.

Does this technique have a name? Can its origin be traced back to a book or article?

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Punctuated Pounding –  JoseK Sep 8 '11 at 9:18
    
@JoseK Is that a comment or an answer? (rhetorical question) –  Waggers Sep 8 '11 at 12:59
    
Nice link, but according to it, statements only qualify as Punctuated Pounding when someone is getting beaten (presumably in time with the words or pauses). –  T.E.D. Sep 8 '11 at 13:27
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My wife and I call it The William Shatner School of Acting. –  rajah9 Sep 8 '11 at 13:34

5 Answers 5

Technically, the simplest answer would be "punctuated speech."

punctuated — emphasize something: to do or say something in order to add emphasis

But this specific pattern is extremely common in music and goes by the term "staccato". The Wikipedia entry has some good examples of music played with and without staccato and it perfectly matches the vocalized pattern used when reading this type of passage out loud.

The dictionary definition includes this:

staccato — composed of or characterized by abruptly disconnected elements; disjointed: rapid-fire, staccato speech.

The key part of staccato is not the speed at which is played but the disjointed, punctuated feeling of each note or word.

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"staccato speech" is the name of a symptom, principally a symptom of multiple sclerosis, where a person speaks prounouncing each syllable distinctly. I suppose you could use the term for this style of writing, too, though. I didn't downvote your answer, btw. –  Cyberherbalist Dec 20 '13 at 17:33
    
@Cyberherbalist: Whoa, I did not know that. Interesting. Is there a significant difference between "staccato speech" and "stuttering"? –  MrHen Dec 20 '13 at 17:35
    
From what I've read, yes. Stuttering isn't like it at all. Check this: medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/staccato+speech –  Cyberherbalist Dec 20 '13 at 17:48
    
"staccato" is not a good comparison. Staccato in music is achieved by shortening each note while keeping the same tempo, thus creating separation between the notes. When these period-after-every-word sentences are spoken, the word lengths remain the same (or are lengthened), and the spaces between the words are lengthened. This changes the tempo of the phrase. –  Sildoreth Dec 20 '13 at 21:51

In English the period is really meant to indicate a long pause in speaking (like would happen at the end of a sentence). As such, I suspect its history of use to designate long pauses for emphasis in this way goes back pretty much as far as the period itself does.

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I doubt its history is even remotely that old. I've read hundreds of thousands of articles, books, essays, advertisements, stories, screenplays, poems, and more, over the last five decades, and I've never encountered it until sometime within the last few years. –  John M. Landsberg Mar 7 '13 at 9:35

It's going to be difficult to trace. There must, of course, be a initial appearance of this usage in writing, but that may be ephemeral. Now it's popping up all over the place, especially in advertisements. It seems to me to have originated in common speech, when someone -- with tongue lightly inserted in cheek and mildly humorous intent -- said something with that particular phrasing, in order to emphasize the superlative, thus: "Man, I went to Las Vegas and won a million bucks playing bingo, and that actress Jennifer what's-her-name invited me to her Oscar party in L.A., and I got picked to star in the new James Bond movie, and that was just Saturday! Best. Weekend. Ever."

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Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons. That's your answer.

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Can you provide any links to back up your answer? Moreover, not everyone is familiar with Comic Book Guy, me for example. –  Mari-Lou A Aug 2 '13 at 5:11
    
What?! You're not familiar with Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons?! I don't know what CBG has to do with the answer to the question, but look here for your link: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comic_book_guy –  Cyberherbalist Dec 20 '13 at 17:38
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@Mari-LouA I just noticed that the way CBG says "Worst [subject] ever!" is pronounced as if it were "Worst. Episode. Ever." It's his catch-phrase. That's not an answer, though, it's merely an example. –  Cyberherbalist Dec 20 '13 at 17:49
    
Nope, no idea who this fellow is I'm afraid. I know who the Simpsons are, their kids, and snowflake, the dog? And I agree with you, that CBG's catchphrase is only an example. –  Mari-Lou A Dec 20 '13 at 17:56

I.don't.know.where.this.practice.started; however, it has been around since before the era of computers. I found a picture of a stone on a building in Stirling, Scotland in 1898 that used periods between words. This stone was cut from the original building in Scotland and sent to Utah to make the monument as portrayed below and as described in Chapter 42 of an LDS history.
what-e'er-thou-art stone

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That just looks like an interpunct / mid-dot. The romans used this, especially in architecture. –  tdhsmith Sep 8 '11 at 17:06
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That’s merely a word separator; it’s unrelated to the usage under discussion. Such separators are not uncommon in inscriptions; lettuce_pants mentioned Roman examples, and they’re also common in runic inscriptions. –  Brian M. Scott Sep 8 '11 at 22:08
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Agree with the previous two commenters, but +1 for the sentiment in the monument, and for David O. McKay. –  Cyberherbalist Dec 20 '13 at 17:35

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