More praise for punctuation

Photo Courtesy of orangebrompton on Flickr

Photo Courtesy of orangebrompton on Flickr

I celebrate a well-placed comma and a properly used apostrophe.

Punctuation makes reading and comprehending so much easier than it was in the time of Socrates. Pity him, for he had to endure Greek texts written in scriptio continua. His scrolls looked something like this:


(from The Desiderata —© Max Ehrmann 1927)

I send gratitude, then, to Aristophanes of Byzantium, the director of the Library of Alexandria around 200 BCE, who decided to make his life easier by inserting dots at the end of sentences. Thank you for the period, Aristophanes of Byzantium! (Source: Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer)

People seemed content with a period for some time. Hundreds of years later, spacing and varying types of punctuation finally entered, one by one, into our written language.

We now have commas, exclamation marks, question marks, ellipses, colons, semi-colons, hyphens, interrobangs, and sarkmarks. All those punctuation choices create different kinds of comprehension problems.  Lynn Truss made the dilemma of the serial comma famous through her book title Eats, Shoots, & Leaves. The “Let’s eat, grandma” and “Let’s eat grandma” photo circulates through our social media feeds.

Lets-eat-grandmaI edit a newsletter for our church. Someone saved me from myself when they corrected an error in a title for an upcoming event. The corrected version read “Struggling Toward Christmas” Lunch, Sunday at noon.” My original version had the poor people fighting and thrashing their way toward food when I left out the quotation marks: Struggling Toward Christmas Lunch.


Possessive apostrophes and commas create the most problems, but in most cases, we roll with the errors and have a good laugh. (Unless someone really is planning on cooking up grandma.) Every once in a while, though, it costs big bucks. Rogers Communications found this out when a comma cost them a million dollars.

So, I celebrate the curious squiggles, lines, and dots we pepper through our writing. They make life so much easier, and entertaining, no matter where we find them.

Photo courtesy of Vicky Somma on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Vicky Somma on Flickr


About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on November 22, 2013, in Inspiration, writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Yellingrosa's Weblog

Poetry, Visual Arts, Music and IT Tech




Simple made easy! psychology love feeling emotion thought behaviour success strategy

Diary Of A Growing Black Man

Personal website sharing life experiences and vision

Jay Colby

Life, Inspiration & Motivation

Health Sources

Health , Beauty and Food

A Little Blog of Books

Book reviews and other literary-related musings

Reverend Erin

Thoughts on Ministry from a First-Time Minister

Mill Street Books

Almonte's bookstore carries books, music, family games, gifts and more.


"Every day is a great day to make a joyful noise!"

simple Ula

I want to be rich. Rich in love, rich in health, rich in laughter, rich in adventure and rich in knowledge. You?

Bliss B4 Laundry

Inspirational Events for Mind, Body & Soul + Ontario's Best Wellness Weekends for Women


Spread love before hate conquers.

Kone, Krusos, Kronos

A personal forum to express ideas, experiences, stories, etc.


Just another site

matter of life and death

- perceptions from a widow's perspective

%d bloggers like this: