Sunday, November 22, 2015
Yep, exactly. We'd be like subway commuters in a megalopolis at rush hour, not crammed together like sardines because sardines don't do that voluntarily.
Supposedly, my first two sentences at the top of the page were how every thing was written until sometime around the third century BCE (why not B.C.E.?), when one of the head honchos at the great library of Alexandria, Aristophanes, with papyrus scroll in hand, shouted, "Enough!", and he threw in an exclamation point and a couple of double quotes. That sentence right there is why we have punctuation. It's a mess as it is, but can you imagine it without punctuation? I can't either.
Well, Ari didn't quite come up with the exclamation point, but he did originate the comma, which was a dot, like this (·), a colon (.); and the periodos (·). So, finally, folks could catch their breath while reading.
Later we changed periodos to period. Period. We also plopped it down to rest on the bottom line of lined paper. The period is also referred to as a full stop. Now, to me, I'd think a full stop would be an exclamation mark, and here's why. Let's say you're captain of a ship and you're about to hit a big chunk of ice. What do you say? Full stop. But, like that, the guys in the engine room, they're gonna think, "Yeah, full stop, big deal. Doesn't sound like he really means it," so they continue with their card game and hit the berg. But with an exclamation point, the captain can now shout, "Full stop!" and maybe thrown in another two or three exclamation points for good measure, and those engine room guys will go, "Oh, s**t! He's serious!" and slam on the brakes.
I find it interesting that the exclamation point didn't rear its pointy little head until the 15th century, which makes me wonder what they did for excitement before that. And how did they conduct a decent war? You can't go into battle by saying, "Charge." No one's going to think you mean it.
Well, that completes our tour today of punctuation. Stay tuned for our next broadcast when we look at the curious world of the letter 'a' and how it can also be a word.
For more on punctuation, check these out:
Keep writing, friends.