cover image Making a Point: The Persnickety Story of English Punctuation

Making a Point: The Persnickety Story of English Punctuation

David Crystal. St. Martin’s, $24.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-06041-9

Crystal (Spell It Out) will delight anyone interested in written language with this exploration and explication of English’s deceptively complex system of punctuation. Rather than trying to convey how each punctuation mark should be used—a surprisingly difficult task—Crystal offers a charming journey through the evolution of punctuation, from the role of spacing as the earliest form of punctuation to the influence of the Internet. He tackles the age-old question of whether punctuation exists to help readers or speakers and explores the roles that typesetters, publishers, editors, and proofreaders have played in shaping punctuation and, in some cases, authorial voice and intent. Crystal, a professor of linguistics, brings scholarly acumen and gravity, as well as delight and good humor, to his subject. He illuminates punctuation’s transformation over time, as needs and preferences changed, and finds that the Internet is a particularly intriguing source of inventiveness. Crystal’s ultimate message isn’t about rigidly enforcing the rules of punctuation; instead, he highlights the importance of understanding punctuation as a system and the pleasure of using it to its fullest potential. Illus. [em](Oct.) [/em]