Today I have been reading a paper on the psychology of punctuation. I must admit, at first,  not having considered punctuation to have a psychological impact but actually it does. This is representative in eclipses used to omit words (you know this '…') and exclamation marks and commas and so on. The paper briefly covers a look at colons used in the bible and how they have declined in use; this is very similar to my MA work where I counted punctuation marks over a large corpus and drew conclusions from the data. What has really intrigued me however, is the rules that apparently surround a colon, and what has even more intrigued me is the language and how these rules are not adhered to as much today.

So here goes:

E.L. Thorndike

Rule I — A colon should be put after a clause that is complete in itself, but is followed, without conjunction, by some remark, inference or illustration.

Rule II — When a sentence consists of two members which are united by a conjunction or an adverb, and either if them is divisible into clauses separated by semicolons, a colon should be used before the connecting word.

Rule III — A colon should be placed before a quotation, a speech, a course of reasoning, or a specification of articles or subjects when informally introduced.
So reading the above, even I'm confused but I love the richness of the language. So maybe the reason why people get in a pickle over the right way to punctuate is that the language is getting in the way? Can you remember what an adverb is or a conjunction without looking it up? Difficult isn't it?

Maybe the problem then isn't the little marks, but rather the language to use them isn't being taught clearly.

The post 19th Century Rules appeared first on DYP.

Older Post Newer Post