Monday, July 16, 2007

Punctuating their Origins

Have you ever wondered about the origin of modern punctuation? I happened upon this interesting article, thanks to Outside the Lines, which describes the origins of the ampersand ( & ) and the question mark ( ? ), among other common modern punctuation marks. I've personally always favored the ampersand, especially in more formal contexts, and no wonder since it is derived from a stylized version of the latin et. The explaination for the question mark seemed dubious to me, so I looked elsewhere and found this hypothesis at Wikipedia: "The point has always indicated the end of a sentence. The curved line represented the intonation pattern of a spoken question and may be associated with a kind of early musical notation, like neumes."

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