Sometimes I read corrections here in Italki that don't really care about punctuation. Not only exclamation and interrogation points, but commas are really important too, and I feel like the punctuation is sometimes different depending on the language. Also, a bad punctuation could change the meaning of a sentence or even a text.
What do you think? Is punctuation that important? Should we focus our attention in more important things while correcting?
(You may have noticed that english is not my first language, I'm sorry in advance for my misspelling and grammar mistakes).
I agree that punctuation is important in writing. However, when I'm correcting an italki notebook entry that includes many errors, I find it challenging to decide which of the errors to correct. When I'm correcting a text here, especially if I don't know the writer personally, I can't tell what their goals are. I'm guessing that for many learners, improving their vocabulary and basic grammar takes priority over perfecting their writing. So I might overlook punctuation misuse if I consider the person to be a beginner in their target language.
We can always rely pretty safely on a native speaker's ability to make accurate grammaticality judgments. Every native speaker can recognize an incorrect verb form, for example. However, not every native speaker is secure in their own use of punctuation. That could be another reason why someone would choose not to make punctuation corrections.
I think that it’s more about the order of importance than about whether it’s important or not. As Sheila has said, it can be difficult to decide what to correct. People tend to have different expectations. Some learners like being corrected on everything, while others would feel discouraged. I actually stopped correcting notebook entries on italki because of this. I don’t correct people without knowing what they’re looking for.
With that being said, while it is true that punctuation changes the meaning, the meaning is often clear from the context. If your grandma disappeared and you were a suspect and put on trial, and someone found on your phone a text saying, “Let’s eat grandma,” I think the first question to ask is who you sent the text to. If it was to your grandma, you can rest assured that you have nothing to worry about. If it was to your brother, well... you probably really did eat your grandma.