History of Punctuation Marks

It has come to my realisation that due to me being distracted by the images of unused punctuation marks , I forgot to touch on the history of a type of punctuation itself (as well as something for the logo use of type), which I shall go into now.


Since practically every form of punctuation mark has been created through their own separate ways, it will be much easier for me to discuss the creation of a fairly simple form of punctuation, such as the “Pilcrow” (¶). A pilcrow was used within the past as a formal way of indicating a paragraph, as the cost of printing and writing up books within the time period was fairly exspesive and paper space was key when writing.

* The pilcrow originally started life out within account Greece, and originates from the Greek word “paragraphos”. It was rendered in Old French as paragraphe and later changed to pelagraphe. The earliest know/recorded reference of the modern pilcrow we use nowadays is in 1440’s, with the Middle English word “pylcrafte”.

* The first way to divide sentences into groups in Ancient Greek was the original paragraphos, which was a horizontal line in the margin to the left of the main text. As the paragraphos became more popular, the horizontal line eventually changed into the Greek letter Gamma (Γ and γ) and later into litterae notabiliores, which were enlarged letters at the beginning of a paragraph. This notation soon changed to the letter K which was an abbreviation for the Latin word kaput, which translates as “head”. Eventually, to mark a new section, the Latin word capitulum, which translates as “little head” was used, and the letter C came to mark a new section in 300 BC. In the 1100s, C had completely replaced K as the symbol for a new chapter. Rubricators eventually added a vertical bar to the C to stylize it; the symbol was filled in with dark ink and eventually looked like the modern pilcrow (¶).

This mostly goes to show how much a single piece of type can go through before it takes the form which we know of today, and how small changes can make a whole lot of difference within the long run.


Source and Reference:

* – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilcrow 

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