Our Fave Five Punctuation Marks

I love you, period.
Do you love me question mark?
Please, please, exclamation point,
I want to hold you parentheses.

Do those lyrics ring a bell? Well, even if you didn’t learn that song in elementary school as I did, you can still go gaga for those grammatical symbols, because today is —wait for it— National Punctuation Day! To honor this deliriously delightful day, we set out to explore a few of these marvelous marks!

Ready to find out some fab facts? On your punctuation mark, get set, go!

5. Semicolon Despite what its name seems to imply, this mark works full-time! It was first put into use by Italian printer Aldus Manutius the Elder to function as its modern usage dictates, but also as a mark between words with conflicting meanings.

4. Period This mark’s history goes like this:  Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a gent named Aristophanes of Byzantium devised a punctuation system using dots arranged at high, middle, or low points, with the low dots indicating the end of a whole thought. Aristophanes actually called those last dots “kommas,” but somewhere along the line, the komma switched its name to “period.”

3. Exclamation Mark Some say the exclamation mark came from the Latin word for “joy” (lo) being scripted with the ‘l’ over the ‘o’! However, even with its early origins, this totally awesome mark didn’t even get its own typewriter key until the 1970s. Crazy!

2. Interpunct The interpunct was used in ancient Latin writing to separate words. Now, it can be commonly found in dictionaries to separate syllables for pronunciation.

1. Interrobang This unconventional mark is kind of like your crazy next door neighbor, à la Kramer — quirky, dramatic, and always surprising.The interrobang was invented in 1962 by ad man Martin Speckter, who thought this funky mark would help ad copy that conveyed questioning surprise look better.

Learn anything new? What’s your favorite punctuation mark?

About Hannah

"Q: Where do cantaloupes go for the summer? A: John Cougar Mellon Camp!" From that joke you can surmise a few things about Hannah -- she loves a good pun, she delights in irreverence, and red peppers are her vegetable of choice. How does one figure out Hannah loves red peppers from that joke? Hmm, that's top secret. Hannah also adores outdoor activities, arts & crafts, reading, and being abroad.


3 Responses to Our Fave Five Punctuation Marks

  1. Grace 09/24/2010 at 5:55 pm #

    Ampersand (epershand) & – this started in Roman cursive with the e and the t being written very close together. Any language that is rooted in the Latin language has a version of this.

  2. Christina K. 09/25/2010 at 12:30 pm #

    I second Grace on this. I love the ampersand!

  3. Sarahnargle 09/25/2010 at 6:10 pm #

    I <3 the semicolon; my love is such that I could not help using it in this sentence.

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