Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Wide World Of Punctuation: Part 2

Today we're continuing our look at the most interesting punctuation the world has to offer. These symbols can do just about anything, from directing your attention to decorating pages, and even showing your romantic mood!

& - The ampersand is derived from the phrase "and per se and". Since it means "and", it makes sense that the symbol gradually evolved from the French word et. The two letters began to be written together in such a way that they connected, and the rest is history.

@ - It may sound crazy, but it turns out that the at symbol has been in use for hundreds of years, and no, the internet didn't exist then. Originally, it was used to abbreviate the word arroba, which was a unit of weight used by the Spanish and Portuguese equal to 25 pounds. Who knew‽

The index points to the reward so you'll
help to catch Honest Abe's killer!
- The fleuron has been used for centuries, and was first present in early Latin and Greek texts. The symbol gets its name from the Old French term floron, meaning "flower", which makes sense as it is generally a stylized representation of flowers or leaves. It's used as a fancy way to divide paragraphs in texts, as well as to make ornamental borders around the sides of pages. Also written , it has many other names including hedera and printers' flower.

- The aptly named pointing hand is used to direct your attention to important things, but is also found in places like encyclopedias to refer you to other articles, or in magazines to tell you where a story continues. It was originally used in Spanish texts, and is also known by the names index, manicule, fist, bishop's fist, and mutton-fist. We have no idea where the inspiration for those last two names came from!

There are plenty of other interesting symbols to mention, but we'll just mention six more. Back in 1966, a French writer named Hervé Bazin came up with six new punctuation marks. They're known as the love point, the irony point, the certitude point, the authority point, the acclamation point, and the doubt point. You can see them in all their glory here.

As for yesterday's mind-numbing punctuation puzzle, here's the answer:

James, while John had had "had", had had "had had"; "had had" had had a better effect on the teacher.

The use of italics helps to show emphasis in the sentence, though it is clearly not part of the puzzle since it isn't a type of punctuation! If you'd like a more detailed explanation of it all, you can find it here.

☞ We hope you've enjoyed our look @ some crazy symbols & punctuation!