It’s easy to overlook the importance of empty space as a form of punctuation. Certainly, I’m guilty of giving pride of place to visible marks such as the pilcrow (¶) and interrobang (‽). But this isn’t to ignore the groundbreaking invention of the word space in the medieval period; the disappearance of the pilcrow to create the paragraph indent; or, most recently, the use of variable-length spaces as pauses in Patrick Stewart’s 2015 PhD thesis. Also recently, I was encouraged to look again at the subject of whitespace-as-punctuation by a visit to the Science Museum here in London.
In lieu of a post this week, head over to BBC.com’s Culture section to read my article about “The Mysterious Origins of Punctuation” — it’s hot off the presses! Want to chat about it? Post a comment here or over at the related Facebook post. Shady Characters readers will be right at home, and I hope you enjoy it!
A genuine miscellany this week; a grab-bag of punctuational ephemera to chew over at your leisure. First, I would draw your attention to Benjamin Samuel’s forensic, heart-breaking, and hilarious ode to the comma at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. I quote:
[Could not find the bibliography file(s)
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.
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.