At the time of writing this (January 27th) and I have only one week to do this, I am willing to bring out my last-minute blog post idea. (plssss read it :’D)

Punctuation

Wow,, a post on punctuation? That sounds REALLY boring, guess I’ll read a post about my favorite rhythm games /s.

that sounds really boring

If I was asked to name two things that I hate about essay writing, it would be the absence of vocabulary by the time I put my pen to paper and the horrendous rules of punctuation (emphasis on the second part.)

Why?? Just why would you make us write an essay, having not taught us the 1000+ rules for using a comma before it; then berate us for misplacing it???

Before we start with the topic, I’d love y’all to know that I have no idea what’s going on in my head whilst writing this.

Another note is that I was mostly paraphrasing in most sections from the very unreliable “Eats, Shoots and Leaves: A Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation” book that even the greatest linguists criticize.

I’m tired, exhausted, bored and every synonym you could Google.

Nonetheless, I tried my best to research this topic from one good source to another.

This blogpost will have unusually short parts for a long post. If you don’t have time to finish the post, here are the contents; in every part, I will also add bulleted notes — only if it’s long:

  • part 1: why punctuation is important
  • part 2: where punctuation was first implemented (in the western world)
  • part 3: when punctuation was standardized and how it affected the world of modern writing
  • part 4: following my basic guide for punctuation
  • part 5: how we should use punctuation
  • appendix and notable (re)marks

part 1: why punctuation

A handful, if not most of you, may be familiar with the sentence:

“James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher”

James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher

This sentence demonstrates how weird English tenses are and the need for punctuation to help writers achieve clarity and tone.

Here’s another example:

“woman, without her man, is nothing.”

By changing the punctuation marks, you get

“woman: without her, man is nothing.”

Both sentences have the same words however different meanings are deduced when the punctuation marks are changed.

part 2: where punctuation

As unbelievable as it may sound, Latin and Greek originally didn’t have that much punctuation or spacing.

A paragraph would look like stringed up alphabet soup or that word search puzzle you found in a newspaper, that took you weeks to finish.

🎄

VOLŌ NĪL PRAETER TĒ PER MERĀJA CĒRA

The earliest known implementation of punctuation¹ was a three-part system of dramatic notation. This informed actors when to breathe; in preparation for a long bit, a bit, or a relatively short bit: by stacking up dots.

And that’s all there was to it: musical notation for words.

¹ credited to Aristophanes of Byzantium (librarian at Alexandria) around 200 BCE

Passing on to the Romans, this dramatically developed thanks to the rise of read-aloud literature that is, the Bible. These required “clear causing in well-regulated delivery.”

Most of the marks used by the scribes look bizarre and unnatural to us now, such as the virgule, which looks like the modern-day forward-slash (/), that was utilized to denote a sudden pause.

Punctuation then developed slowly and cautiously because of how powerful it is; by pausing at the wrong place, the meaning of a religious text can alter in significant ways.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that there are no differences in interpretation across different denominations of Christianity. If only Hebrew and other ancient languages had some good amount of punctuation marks would there be a straightforward way of interpreting the Bible—but that’s a topic for another day.

purgatory

The Great divide of Christianity thanks to the lack of punctuation in ancient written languages

Notes:

  1. Punctuation wasn’t invented until 200 BC when playwrights and scribes had to use a notation for pausing in the oral delivery of texts and acting.
  2. The Romans adopted a punctuation system because many copies of the Bible were being printed and these copies were to be read aloud.
  3. Punctuation had its ups and downs and didn’t have a formalized notation.

part 3: part 2 part 2: when punctuation declined (then changed(then declined again))

The rise of printed material during the 14th and 15th centuries meant that a standardized system of punctuation was demanded: especially due to how bizarre and difficult it was to handle western punctuation at the time.

Everyone was starting to read with their minds silently, moving one’s lips whilst reading was becoming odd.

Punctuation wasn’t so important anymore and would only stay there if someone was even willing to read it out loud.

However, things began to change when the introduction of a standard system of punctuation was being created. This standard system is credited to the excellent Venetian printer Aldus Manutius the Elder (1450-1515) for solving the heck out of this punctuation issue.

aldus manutius the elder

Aldus Manutius the Elder

He and his grandson created the marks and the convention that is similar to what we use today.

They lowered the virgule² and curved it for a start, so that it began to look like the modern comma.

They put colons and full stops at the ends of sentences, created the semicolon, and most significantly, ignored the old marks that once aided the reader to read aloud.

Punctuation now helped with reading and understanding a text, instead of reading aloud.

Within the seventy years it took for Aldus Manutius the Elder to be replaced by Aldus Manutius the Younger, things changed so drastically; in 1566 Aldus Manutius the Younger was able to state that “the main object of punctuation was the clarification of syntax.

It wasn’t until a few centuries later when punctuation started to rumble into the depths of English grammar, which was later calibrated to somewhat match Latin grammar.

Grammarians created more tricky punctuation rules, always changing every few generations. Commas now became more complicated, from breaking up words to having rules, exceptions, and enigmas.

Now that it’s more complicated, how do we learn punctuation? For native speakers, this may come from instinct and recalls of grammar classes, but this is not enough for one to use a semicolon correctly and with confidence.

Notes:

  1. Comma , Semicolon ; Colon : Period .
  2. Long ago, the four punctuation marks lived together in harmony, defining words as Aldus Manutius the Elder imagined after implementing a standardized convention.
  3. Then everything changed when his grandson said, “the main object of punctuation is the clarification of syntax.”
  4. Only the linguists, masters of all linguistics, could stop the prescriptivists (my teachers) from bombarding me e-mails about misplaced commas and incorrectly used semicolons, but when the language world needed them most, they hid in their tiny little cupboards.

part 4: what punctuation

To review punctuation we must look at it in a fun and easy way. Using a good amount of mnemonics, you can understand the basic uses of commas, dashes, the apostrophe, etc.

Rules of punctuation will always vary between language, region, register and are rapidly changing from time to time.

The following guidelines that I will be showing you are mostly from what I learned in writing and experiencing the wonderful tool, that is dubbed za English laŋgwedʒ.

(If you want a follow up with a comprehensive list of guidelines for punctuation from various style guides, please give me money so I can buy the rest /hj)

comma

²A Comma

Stick with one style

Whether your writing style is American, Indian, Filipino, etc., it’s best to be consistent with whatever style you’re using.

In England, it’s not standard to use commas before the conjunction “and” in lists (Americans, you’re exceptional!)

Blue, white and red are my favorite colors.

However, there will be instances that a “non-standard comma,” also known as the oxford comma, is needed to signify that you are talking about two distinct entities.

For this recipe, you’ll need salt, pepper, fish, and chips.

You are free to change anything you want as long as you are consistent and clear with your use of the marks.

Read a style guide that fits what you’re writing, from libraries, bookshops, or a friend.

You may want to ask your editor about styles if you’re a journalist.

Use your common sense

Lend yourself some time to understand what marks you should use and when. Punctuation marks are usually split into two categories, the terminators and the separators.

The terminators mark an end of a sentence: such as the period, question mark, and the exclamation point.

The separators, on the other hand, separate words, phrases, and clauses that often require at least a few amounts of “rules.” Commas, dashes, and semicolons are the commonly used separators.

Get to know the “rules” for these separators, brings us to the next steps.

Practice

After you’ve learned your style, practice!

Write anything you want and get a better grasp of punctuation.

Build up your confidence in writing just by…writing!

From writing a diary entry to writing short fiction for your world, practicing will help you immerse into the written language better.

Get Feedback

Get feedback from your friends! It’s always great to have a view of a reader’s perspective.

But with everyone stuck at their homes while maintaining sanity on the internet; getting feedback from your friends can be difficult especially if they snub you.

One way you can get help is by searching for servers or groups that help with proofreading and will respond to your needs in your writing.

I had someone from the RF servers help me with the blogpost today, clarifying punctuation use and giving me some alternative wording (credits in appendix =])

part 5: how punctuation

We are both aware that clarity is important, but there are “rules and exceptions” that are ruled out by people interacting with each other, creating new ones to better acknowledge what they’re communicating. If you didn’t understand what they were saying, it’s not bad to just ask.

English is not just one standard language, there are different dialects, accents, and many divergences. We can hear English-based creoles and pidgins like those in Hawai’i, New Guinea, etc.

This applies to any language, conserving languages will only make (mainly written) communication boring.

If we all just accept the fact that the written language will not linger the same in the next few decades, punctuation wouldn’t be that hard.

Don’t be committed to policing grammar.

I’m a hypocrite for saying that.

at the end of the colon

Thank you to everyone who read this from top to bottom and I hope that you learned a lot today.

You can share this post if you want to help a friend with punctuation.

If you have comments, corrections or anything you want to say or add on DM me through the RF server.

That’s it for this week Rebels, stay strong and fight the good fight.

Join Literature Division.

(@NickEman132)

Special thanks to Yas for helping me in writing and Ariana for most of the graphics in this post.

some additional stuff

“hi i’m adding this to the blogpost appendix What is your favorite punctuation mark and why? (the punctuation mark can be non-standard or from a different language)”

(Responses are ordered alphabetically)

A Random Owl: ! simply because I feel like it gets more point across more than . ,And is quite a flexible piece of punctuation to me.

Arne: Mines the % i think it looks neat

Avrillaving2: Hey! Eh I’ve never really thought about this before tbh :MadMan: I guess the exclamation point since I use it a lot, and it can show that you’re happy and excited for something.

azusa: 《 it oughta be this one. because its literally arrows thats supposed to mean books

Blank: Hm, I think the semicolon has to be my favorite (;). It’s simple but it has a strong message, even if it’s just 2 strokes on paper.

Cuddles: I would say ! Because it shows excitement or enjoyment and helps emphasize a point

F6sixer: ; Cause that’s the symbol used to denote end of a line in most programming laguages. but from the literary sense, I got none

jaeun: uhhh maybe the ‘ bc it shortens two words into one lol

Jillmothy: I love the demi colon but its not real to my knowledge

Jimmy: My favourite punctuation mark is “!” because its the only punctuation mark through which I can express somewhat emotion through texts. like by using that mark, people can tell if I’m excited, angry, happy or any other impulsive emotion I’m feeling over text, unlike when I use “.” or “?”

jjsnowflake: i like the em dash

i use it a lot in my school write-ups, even though i think i’m not actually supposed to but it lets me insert like important not so important details i wanna add to my write-up but don’t wanna put a billion comas and like don’t want it in the actual sentence. it’s kinda like a little note in the paragraph to explain things like as though you are adding on to your sentence. I am absolutely flopping at explaining the em dash.

em dash love 2em dash love 2

lani egg: is an exclamation point a punctuation mark

“idk”

lani egg: whale. das my favorite

lime: i like { } these boys are cool

Link3000: Oxford comma. It can make a sentence have all kinds of different meanings by the placement

lotte: i would have to say the comma bc of how versatile it can be. bc u can do … as a moment of silence or ,,, which changes the meaning to “bro what the f[…] ima just pause and give the convo a moment to breathe and contemplate”. and it has amazing pauses of silence in literature (shakespeare poems, books, novels) and u can make a sentence just drag on forever with commas if ur gonna big brain that far. and the comma forces u to just pause and say “hold on a moment lemme like give ur inner thoughts a breath before u continue reading”

Missy: ! because rpf hype

Mizore: probs , bc it just adds a bit more apprehension in our time of language. tldr i like , bc it makes it look phun knee

panini: def the comma

cos i abuse it

and its better than the period like

look

hey…..

hey,,,,,,,,

its just better

see

pinkratgirl/CommaSamma: Hehe you already know my answer :glasses:

sarah: , because it’s cool

sharki04: . because people need to know when i’m done speaking :relievedsq:

Spirit: My favorite punctuation mark is the exclamation mark, because it just makes the sentences look more happier and cheerful!🐺

StarsBrother: “¿” this one it’s funny and it makes sense to put it at the beginning of a question in Spanish in writing as sometimes people miss the ? At the end and get confused when reading

Steax: I like ? it conveys so much emotion

“?”

Steax: ????

tesaurum: The em dash—you could use it for almost anything, and it works—replace commas, parentheses—even colons—and it would be grammatically correct!

VishalDraxGaming7002: My favorite mark is probably .

Vishal: Because .

Drax: You know when you go .

Gaming: …..

7002: Amirite…

yas: * because I can correct my mistakes 😎😎  or & because you don’t have to type as much 😳

YipYorp: well, i think, i would say the comma, because it has a lot of uses, and you can use it in the place of other punctuation marks, and you make run-on sentences, which can be really fun, also, i think they are cool

“LMAO thanks”

YipYorp: you’re, welcome,

zhark: anywho my favorite puncuation mark would have to be the comma. i use it far too often bc it’s just that fun and v versatile

commas? i do not see

z3: ? because i’m tryna figure out who asked 😩

1st – Exclamation Point

2nd – Comma

3rd – Em dash, Period, Question Mark, Semicolon

Special mentions – Demicolon, Percentage, 🐋

interrobang

my personal favorite, the interrobang

If you see this, DM @NickEman132#7521 “FREE COOKIE” to be featured on my next post 💕