Friday, November 19, 2004

Punctuation: A Lost Art.

I recall reading a witty essay (update 11/20/04 12:56 P.M.; second update 5/4/2015, "Pico Iyer: In Praise of the humble comma") on punctuation in high school, but I cannot remember the name or author for the life of me.

In these times of enhanced language "connectivity" attained through the internet, I have noticed a substantial phenomenon: many people do not use enough punctuation! (Based on the popularity of this post, following topics on the complications of homophones, possessives, contractions, capitalization, appositives, parenthetical asides, number agreement in subjects and verbs and other forms of written minutia over which I obsess could be considered.)

The subject of semicolons, in particular, fascinates me; they can create a nice flow between sentences and act as a connector of ideas. This article on semicolon usuage is very well-constructed.

I think punctuation is very important- it can even be fun! We should all be thankful that we have punctuation- archaic Latin didn't even have periods (because the main verb would separate sentences by naturally falling at the end of sentences)! Just consider your punctuation as an extension of your individual language style and express yourself. Use more ellipses too; they can do more than simply trail off a lingering thought... they can add thought-provoking space to your sentences. Colons are also powerful; use them in titles or at the end of a complete thought to signal an expansion of your idea. Think of them as a doorway that opens up to reveal your next clause. Though no colons are coming out naturally during the process of creating this post, I can think of one way to solve that: a focus of my creative energy and a swift conclusion.

That's it- no more posts after 1:00 A.M. EST.


  1. Teh Intarweb is graet for grammer and punctation.

    The best lesson on punctuation I ever had was "I Love You Period" by Dan Baird. (Thanks WAIA c. 1991!) Don't buy it. Go listen to a clip on Amazon or via your favorite file-sharing program. It's ok because I'm telling you right now you'd never in a million years want to buy this song. But you should hear it at least once.

  2. Are you talking about Pico Iyer's essay, "In Praise of the Humble Comma"?

  3. Anonymous2:09 PM

    That was one of the greatest essays I've ever read! Ah, the humble comma.