Grammar Greatness: Your one-minute Hangry History guide to Punctuation.

October 14, 2019 | By | Reply More

I would have called this primer ‘horrible’ rather than ‘hangry’, but didn’t want to get sued by my friend, author Terry Deary.

Those funny little marks you see all over the page and screen, they’re called “punctuation”.

They started off as a way of making your writing seem closer to how you speak out aloud.

Punctuation was actually created, like so much else, by an ancient scholar in 3 BC. This fellow, called Aristophanes of Byzantium, needed a way to mark up texts so people reading them would know when to draw a breath, pause to let the audience digest the words, halt for dramatic effect and so forth.

Only the rich, powerful and wealthy could read in those days, and you never know when you’d need to read an inspiring speech before your troops, change minds inside the palace, or win victory inside a court of law (when losing meant losing your head). Come on, those barbarian countries weren’t going to invade themselves.

Two-thousand-three-hundred years later, we’re still using punctuation for much the same reason (less pleading before the Emperor to be given a plum job, though, and not as much getting your head cut off because you accidentally farted in the royal presence).

Thanks, Aristophanes. But I’m still not going to invade Gaul – or as we call it these days, France – for you.

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Category: Wizard of Words

About the Author ()

I have been working as a full-time author publishing fantasy and science fiction novels for HarperCollins for the last seven years.

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