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.
An essay in two parts on the pilcrow (¶) kicks off a new blog called Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation.
Who killed the semicolon? Paul Collins fingers a 19th-century culprit; Trevor Butterworth finds an American anitipathy to this troublesome punctuation mark. [previously] [via]
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.
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.)
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.
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