When did our plainest punctuation mark become so aggressive? (New Republic) “In the world of texting and IMing … the default is to end just by stopping, with no punctuation mark at all,” Liberman wrote me. “In that situation, choosing to add a period also adds meaning because the reader(s) need to figure out why you did it. And what they infer, plausibly enough, is something like ‘This is final, this is the end of the discussion or at least the end of what I have to contribute to it.’”
Once upon a time, typographical practice was anarchy. Printers put in all sizes of spaces in haphazard ways, including after periods. Then, a standard emerged: the single space after a period. Unfortunately, the evil typewriter came along, and for some unknown reason, people began to put wider double spaces after periods. Typographers railed against the practice, but they could do nothing. [more inside]
Lewis Thomas (1913-1993) was a physician and essayist, writing gracefully on topics as varied as language, nuclear war, and our excellent health and deplorable health-care system (PDF). He believed that the existence of Bach vindicates humanity, that "ants are so much like human beings as to be an embarrassment", and that the Earth is perhaps best thought of as a cell. A three-time winner of the National Book Award, Thomas authored Lives of a Cell, which was voted the 11th-best nonfiction work of the 20th century by the Modern Library.
The semicolon sat there in my literary utensil drawer like a cherry pitter, theoretically functional, but fussy and unloved and probably destined for the yard-sale table. Semicolons: A Love Story [NYT]
Unicode’s sad lack of intellectual smileys | And, really, wouldn't this be a better world if we had a rhetorical question mark?
Bookstore Waterstone's changes its name to ... Waterstones.
An essay in two parts on the pilcrow (¶) kicks off a new blog called Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation.
Timothy Dexter was an 18th Century American entrepreneur from Newburyport, MA who made his money in fairly baffling ways. He successfully sold coal in Newcastle and shipped stray cats and mittens to the Caribbean at a sizable profit. Self-described as "First in the East, First in the West, and the Greatest Philosopher in the Western World," he is listed in an entry in the notably hoax-filled Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography, but NPR believes that he existed. [more inside]
A Guide to Using Semicolons Properly; Also, Further Links to Semicolon Related Material on the Inside.
Who killed the semicolon? Paul Collins fingers a 19th-century culprit; Trevor Butterworth finds an American anitipathy to this troublesome punctuation mark. [previously] [via]
Slow news day: One properly used semicolon inspires paroxysms of joy in the NYT.
Apostrophes, apostrophes, more apostrophes. Yet more apostrophes. They're "everywhere". It's grammar hell - literally!
A Grammar Test - How is your grammar? Are you proficient with the English language? Here is a little test of 34 questions to help you check yourself. Or, perhaps grammar doesn't trip your trigger. You may want to try the Punctuation and Capitalization test.
Josh Greeham argues on Slate that we're in need of the Sarcasm point. In this new internet world of smilies and bad grammar there seems to be a need for new ways to express oursleves. So much so, that people are even patenting the questioning comma. Even the humorists are getting in on the act.. And whatever you do, don't tell interrobang.
Punk-Tuation: Is It The New Anarchy Or Boring Old Fascism All Over Again? How
anal serious about apostrophes are you? Just how far would you go for a perfect semi-colon? Do you regularly reach for heart pills before you read MetaFilter? Take comfort in this: Lynne Trusse's wildly popular Eats Shoots And Leaves is this year's surprise bestseller in Britain. And I've limited myself to the MeFi-adored Guardian, just to make my (as it were) point. So... how important is punctuation to you? My own suspicion is that punctuation is the new spelling. It is important. (And, lest this seem carefree and frivolous, let me confess right away that MetaFilter may well be the worst offender, in this regard, ever to have blessedly existed.)
Lord Timothy Dexter (1747-1806) was one of the most colorful characters of early American history, described here as, among other things, an "Eccentric 18th Century Merchant - Investor with a Midas Touch - Impresario - Patron of the Arts, founding the 'World Mouserum of Grate Wonder and Gret Caricters' - progressive 'Libperel' - Self Appointed 'Consler of Trouth.'" This site includes a complete transcription of Dexter's punctuation-free magnum opus, A Pickle for the Knowing Ones featuring his famous Addenda.
Interrobang ?! Because what we all really need is another bit of punctuation to misuse.
Metaphysical significance of punctuation marks (a) Periods . and commas , are lovely because they are simple... Semicolons ; are pretentious and overactive...Italics rarely fail to insult the reader's intelligence..."Quotation marks" create the spurious impression of an aristocracy of sensibility...The exclamation point ! is obviously too emphatic, too childish, for our sophisticated ways...Questions ? and exclamations ! betray a sense of inquisitiveness and wonder that is distinctly unmodern....(parentheses) and - dashes - betoken stylistic laziness, a failure of discipline....(a) content footnotes are symbols of failure.
If your never sure about all thing's grammatical... then this may help you. hyphens, apostrophes and split infinitives are all covered, along side many and various spellings, rules and regulations.
yo d00dz! hav u seen tihs? "Two-thirds of the 18-24 year olds questioned do not worry about punctuation, grammar or style when writing messages. About 16% sign every e-mail with love and kisses, even when addressing their boss."
l8s, love wrighty XX
l8s, love wrighty XX