Ok, maybe not dead, but I think its usage is completely intertwined with an antiquated sense and the capitalized, bolded, or italicized word (or phrase/sentence) has taken over.
Here are my reasons why grammar needs to change to reflect its demise:
**1) **An exclamation point makes the whole sentence emphatic and lacks precision of the meaning that could be conveyed by the capitalized word.
**2) **The exclamation point is post-indicative. If there’s a long sentence that requires that punctuation, the reader won’t see this until the end and then have to possibly re-evaluate the intent behind the sentence.
Then there was a presidential campaign when registering the exclamation point for a trademark and just abandoned it.
4) It’s a bit antiquated. If I’m reading a book and it has frequent exclamation points, especially in a non-verbalized sentence, I’m going to check the publication date. Moreover, Gordon Lightfoot’s song “If You Could Read My Mind” has an exclamation point in it. Enough said.
**5) **It’s not completely dead. Not including the expanded interrobang, there is one acceptable usage: the very short sentence. This would include:
Have a safe trip!
If the exclamation point was removed and it was capitalized or italicized, the meaning could be lost. “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” without an exclamation point lends a sarcastic undertone to it.
Agreed. (Agreed!) Exclamations work okay in dialogue, but should never be used in narrative.
And in informal messages, like we’re engaged in here (!) it’s okay to use quick-and-dirty emphatic tools to punch-up the text. Raw text is traditionally “soulless,” and tends to come across more dry and more harsh than the equivalent spoken word. Softening this with dialect (f’sure!) and other techniques is valid, in proper context.
Writing a letter to the editor of the local newspaper? No…*
In an email to your old college roomie in Cincinnati, sure!
I use ellipses as a kind of anti-exclamation point, to soften the tone of a passage. Piano, vs. Forte.