A post from Shady Characters

Miscellany № 26

A quiet week! Where has all the punctuation news gone? If you have any tips as to something you’d like to see featured here, please get in touch.


“Ice Cream & Cake” by Emily Blincoe. See more at THIS & THAT.
“Ice Cream & Cake” by Emily Blincoe. See more at THIS & THAT.

The first of today’s abbreviated items is a tasty punctuational treat: photographer Emily Blincoe’s juxtapositions of complimentary foodstuffs at THIS & THAT, her Tumblr blog, are a feast for the eyes. Each of her pairings — pork & beans, cookies & cream, burger & fries, and many more — is lovingly composed with an edible ampersand at its heart. I thought my love for bacon could ascend no higher, but after seeing Emily’s eggs & bacon, I may have to revise my opinion.

Prints of her compositions are available for purchase at Etsy for the very reasonable price of $11. Her combination of peas & carrots has an amusing Ishihara test quality about it, and I’m sorely tempted to order a copy.


In more conventional news, Reuters reports that a misplaced comma allowed a foreign airline into India’s closely regulated air transport market via the back door. A 2012 press release from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion stated that:

“The government of India has […] decided to permit foreign airlines also to invest, in the capital of Indian companies, operating scheduled and non-scheduled air transport services, up to the limit of 49% of their paid-up capital.

Reuters suggests that had the second, disputed comma been absent (yielding “Indian companies operating scheduled and non-scheduled air transport services”), foreign airlines could have invested only in existing companies, rather than new ones. The DIPP argued that the comma should stay and thus, it is alleged, AirAsia’s CEO Tony Fernandes was permitted to join Tata in creating a new budget carrier and so break into the jealously-guarded Indian market.

Personally, I’m rather more concerned that the original form of the sentence is so mangled. The free market economy’s gain is punctuation’s loss.

5 comments on “Miscellany № 26

  1. Comment posted by elza e ballew on

    Is there a specific math form for parentheses in different fonts, circular arc, part of ellipse, etc?) You are only source I could imagine having answer.

    1. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      Hi Elza — that’s a very good question! I remember reading somewhere that parentheses usually begin life as a circular arc, though I don’t recall where I read that. Do any other readers know the answer to Elza’s question?

    2. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      From Jude Gibbons on Twitter:

      It will be designed along with the rest of the typeface, so will vary according to how geometric or humanist the design is.

  2. Comment posted by Solo Owl on

    If is to calculated mathematically, it is more likely to be made up by joining (“splining”) 3rd or 4th degree curves. (Circles are 2nd degree, if you can remember your high school math.) This gives more calligraphic-looking curves.

    Another method, easier to compute, is described in Chapter 3 of The METAFONTbook by Donald Knuth. (Note that Metafont is disliked by most professional type designers.)

Leave a comment

Required fields are marked *. Your email address will not be published.

Leave a blank line for a new paragraph. You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>