Saturday, March 24, 2012

Punctuation Injunction

Bob had an interesting question during last Tuesday’s show: where did punctuation names come from? Here’s a rundown on some of the standard punctuation marks.

  • apostrophe ( ’ )
    The sign used to indicate the omission of a letter or letters. [Gr. turning away
    or elision]
  • brackets ( [ ] )
    Marks used for enclosing a word or number of words, a portion of a mathematical formula, or the like, so as to separate it from the context. [L. projecting support
  • colon ( : )
    A punctuation mark that directs the reader’s attention to what follows in the same sentence. [Gr. a limb
    , a portion of a sentence]
  • comma ( , )
    A mark used to separate the smallest members of a sentence. [Gr. a small piece cut off
  • dash ( – )
    A mark used to signify a pause or break in a sentence. [Scand. to slap with an open hand
  • ellipsis ( ... )
    Marks indicating the omission of one or more words in a sentence. [Gr. a cut section
    , as a segment of a cone]
  • exclamation point ( ! )
    A sentence termination mark that signifies great emotion. [L. to cry out vehemently
  • hyphen ( - )
    A short dash used to connect compound words or to signify that a word will be completed on the next line. [Gr. together, as one]
  • parentheses ( ( ) )
    Marks used to enclose interrupting, but connected, comments [Gr. to put in beside
  • period ( . )
    The mark used to indicate the end of a declarative sentence. [Gr. a cycle, length of time, or rounded-off event
  • question mark ( ? )
    The mark used to signify the end of a sentence which is a direct question. [L. to ask or inquire
  • quotation marks ( “ ” )
    Marks used to enclose the exact words of another person. [L. to mark or reference
  • semicolon ( ; )
    A mark used to join two independent clauses that are intimately connected; it could be replaced by a period. [L. semi, half
    , + Gr. a limb, a portion of a sentence]

SIDEBAR: If you live in the GT region and are over 50, get a team of 3 together for this year's Senior Spelling Bee. Practice rounds at TADL Wed. April 25 & Thurs. April 26 at noon. Main event Friday, May 4th, 1 p.m., at the Gilbert Lodge on Twin Lakes. Call the TC Senior Center for details at 231-922-4911.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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