My Problems With Punctuated Names: Joomla Edition

JoomlaOh, Joomla! For those who don’t know, Joomla! is the second most popular content management system (CMS) on the internet — a distant second to WordPress, which is what we use here at Frankly Curious. But it causes constant problems for me in my professional work, because I have to deal with sentences like this, “The three most popular CMSs are WordPress, Joomla!, and Drupal.” You will probably see the problem: I hate following an exclamation mark with a comma.

But the word doesn’t have to have an exclamation mark. It could be a period, for example. Suppose some idiot marketing guru decided that a new company should be called Stop. — with the period as part of the name. Imagine that! “The three more stupid recent company names are Pause,, Stop., and What?” The one thing you can say about that is at lease “Pause,” and “Stop.” are clear. But they are only clear because they aren’t at the end of the sentence. Okay, “Pause,” would be clear: “The three more stupid recent company names are What?, Stop., and Pause,.”

Minor Problems Still Need Solving

These are the things that I think about. A lot. These are also the kinds of things that make people create (or at least use) style guides. Unfortunately, having come up in the book publishing business, I’ve only had The Chicago Manual of Style around for decades. It’s only in the last year or so that I bought The Associated Press Stylebook. But it doesn’t matter. I cannot find the issue addressed in either book.

Sure, it’s a minor issue. It doesn’t come up that much — even for me. But for months, I’ve been bouncing around, looking for a good solution. There isn’t one as far as I can tell. In the original sentence above, I could just say that the serial comma is not necessary when the next to last item ends with a punctuation mark, “The three most popular CMSs are WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal.” But that doesn’t solve the general problem. And it gives me one more special case to remember. Also: it looks terrible.

Potential Solution

What is to be done? I’ve looked around, and the consensus seems to be, “Whatever feels right at the time.” The most common cudgel is to use the exclamation point when it is convenient and not use it when it isn’t. I don’t like this — although I’ll admit that I’ve used it a lot. A better solution would be just to decide that the people who named Joomla! are stupid and that the name is simply “Joomla.” Intellectually, I like this solution very much.

Emotionally, I hate it. These nitwits decided that the name of their product is “Joomla!” Shouldn’t I respect that? Would I like it if people started calling me “George”? Admittedly, I would be innocent in this regard. There’s no reason to call me “George”; I don’t go around calling myself “Frank#@!”! And there is a very good reason for not calling me Fran: Fran Moraes.

Joomla It Is!

So I’ve decided something for this case alone. Hang on a second and I will put it in my style book… Okay, it’s done: “Joomla!” is now “Joomla.” The funny thing is that before I dictated that it always be “Joomla!” But really: could anyone be confused? “Joomla? What is this Joomla? I’ve heard of Joomla!, but never Joomla. I wonder what it could be?!” No one would be thusly confused.

Now I understand: I am effectively giving all the Joomla developers the middle finger. But I really don’t care. If their name was something common like “wow,” then I could see it. But Joomla is the English equivalent of the Swahili word “jumla,” which means “wholesale” as in “total.” It doesn’t need the exclamation mark. It isn’t a word that is in any English language dictionary.

Beyond This Case

But I am bothered by the larger issue. For example, as far as I know, Orson Welles wanted the name of his film F for Fake to be ?. See the problem? But you probably don’t need to worry about such things. Even most editors don’t worry about such things. And if Kurt Gödel taught us that algebra was ultimately inconsistent, how could we hope for English to be so? But I’ll continue to lie awake thinking about these matters. At least I have “Joomla” dealt with.

The next time someone asks me why I use WordPress, I have a great response, “Because there is no punctuation in its name.” It certainly isn’t because it’s a bad CMS. It is, in fact, a great CMS. I still need to come up with a reason for not using Drupal. Maybe, “It’s spelled wrong”?

5 thoughts on “My Problems With Punctuated Names: Joomla Edition

  1. For what it’s worth, it bugs me every single time I type it. I knew it would be bugging you. The technical author in me wants me to be consistent forever, even if I wind up writing, “What the hell is Joomla!?”

  2. Here’s one that drives me bananas. Newspapers whose style guidelines require treating sports team nicknames as singular nouns if the nickname doesn’t have an “S” behind it. Hence, “the Jazz averages 100 points a game.” It’s correct to say “jazz averages more half-notes than pop.” But not “the Wild is last in the NHL at goal scoring.” Yet this is a widespread thing! Makes me crazy!

    Besides, Utah should never have kept the team name when it moved to Salt Lake City from New Orleans. Utah has many admirable traits. Jazz music is not among them. (Their greatest-ever player, the HOFer Karl Malone, wore cowboy shit off the court and drove a semi truck — Utah turns even Black people into honkies.) But there’s lots of dumb names like this. There are lakes in Minneapolis, not LA. Grizzlies in British Columbia, not Tennessee.

    As long as I’m on this, I also dislike disaster nicknames. Florida Hurricanes, Chicago Fire, Oklahoma City Thunder (for tornadoes), San Jose Earthquakes, and the sort. Should we rename the Boston Celtics the Famine? NO! Although I would accept it if any Florida team changed their name to the Pythons. Especially if their stadium music before the start of every game was the Liberty Bell march.

  3. What about when Prince changed his stage name to (unpronounceable symbol)?

    And don’t many musicals (and parodies of musicals) have names that end in an exclamation point?

    • Proposed song titles for “Jeb! The Musical”:

      “He Ain’t Ditzy, He’s My Brother”
      “I Fought My Ma (And My Ma Won)”
      “Schiavo In A Coma (I Know, I Know, It’s Serious)
      “A Rush And A Bush And The Land Is Ours”
      “Fuck Libraries”
      “Straight Outta Texas”
      “We Don’t Need No Education”
      “The Vile Recountdown”
      “What’s So Scummy About Cheats, Thugs, And Funding Standing”
      “Battle Hymn Of The Repugnant”
      “It’s The End Of Our Coasts As We Know It (And I Steal Fine)”
      “What A Friend We Have In Fetus”
      “No Man-Man Wood (This Bride Has Blown)”
      “Fuck Libraries (Reprise)”
      “Running On Plenty”
      “Even The Losers”
      “Trump The Hurt Down”
      “My Goddamn Idiot Sibling Was A Friggin’ Two-Term President And All I Got Was To Be Governor Of A State With Flying Cockroaches (Jeb’s Theme)” — sung to the tune of “Pure Imagination”

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