a book about typographical marks

shady collage

“shady characters” by keith houston (2013) brings distinctive character to punctuation & typographical marks we see everyday, a fun read!

before the 8th century, there were no spaces between words and no dividing marks \ and everything was written in upper case <wow i would need advil every time i read a book> / those were the days of scriptio continua \ then the english & irish priests had the good sense to add spaces between words <so that those unfamiliar with latin could more easily decipher the text> / also in the 8th century, charlemagne, with the objective of having a unified script for his subjects, ordered the standardized lower case letters <carolingian miniscule> \ and all this time i just assumed that lowercase came with uppercase

one can already imagine how helpful punctuation marks would be in scriptio continua / the pilcrow <we know it as a proofreading mark to start a new paragraph> in those times could indicate a change in topic or section, a change in speaker if it were a drama or a new stanza if a poem \ over time, the pilcrow’s place was usurped by the indented paragraph <embellishment of the initial letter in the paragraph became the practice but because they also had deadlines back then, a space was left for the rubricator to do the letter design at a later time | probably missed deadlines led to missing embellishments hence the indented paragraph>

from ancient to present marks, the book provides an interesting history of now well-known digital marks @ <at the rate of sign> # <octothorpe> | the mundane & <ampersand>   <hyphen or dash>  “  ” <quotation marks> * <asterisk> | the weird <interrobang>   <manicule> | and what i think are best left unmarked <irony| sarcasm | rhetorical questions>  attempts have been made to punctuate them such as  ; ) <winking smiley> for sarcasm

although — i personally prefer ~ <tilde> to indicate irony or sarcasm <one of its many meanings in math is “not”> / it is fun making up your own punctuation marks and momentarily escape the tyranny of the standard writing world \ readers of this blog may have noticed that it uses / & \ <slanted virgule> to separate thoughts <or sentences> and < & > <greater than & less than signs> in lieu of the parenthesis \ it actually annoys my favorite curmudgeon <but he is a curmudgeon>

book review by stan carey: http://stancarey.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/book-review-shady-characters-by-keith-houston/

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