No, this post is not about magic words, although the title does sound like one! For today class, we will talk about punctuation marks.
Punctuation marks used in English can be confusing. My main language is Filipino, but I have studied and used English – as many other Filipinos have – my entire life. Despite the extensive exposure to this international language, I admit that I still often seek the help of grammarians even in this seemingly basic topic.
Last night, I wanted some clarification on semi-colons: when to use them when independent clauses are involved, so I sought help online. My attention however, was caught by an interesting title of an article, which I will share now.
Below are 14 punctuation marks that you never knew existed taken from buzzfeed.com. I have seen many of the symbols, but I did not have an idea that they were actually punctuation marks! The only ones I am familiar with are the name and function of the caret, and the meaning of the pilcrow (I was not aware of its name until now!)
Really, interrobang, snark, and exclamation comma are punctuation marks
Also called an Obelisk. This bad boy (on the left), and its two-headed friend (on the right) the Double Dagger or Diesis, represents a javelin, which is cutting out extraneous stuff from your text. Its primary use through the ages has been to mark out superfluous repetitions in translation, though nowadays it mostly just stands in as a kind of footnote.
Also called a Wedge, an Up-Arrow, and a Hat, which is cute. The word caret is Latin for “it lacks,” which is convenient, because the caret is primarily used to indicate something that’s missing from the original text.
Not to be confused with a slash! The Solidus is also called a Shilling Mark (presumably by old British dudes in top hats) and it is at a much steeper angle than a boring old backslash. Back before decimilization took the world by storm, the Solidus was used to set apart different values of currency from each other.
The Asterism has an awesome name, a cool look, and a really lame usage. It’s for indicating minor breaks in text. It can also mean “untitled,” apparently.
Guillemets means “Little Williams,” which is interesting but unhelpful. They’re named after a 16th Century French printer. Their primary role is in non-English languages that use them as quotation marks.
Mainly used for Boolean functions and propositional calculus. Truth tables. Stuff like that.
This one’s so cool. It’s like the “Therefore” sign, but upside-down, and it means because.
To indicate sections in a text, mostly by lawyers, who are too good for regular punctuation marks. You probably knew this one, but it’s cool-looking, so.
Just because you’re excited about something doesn’t mean you have to end the sentence.
The interrogative version of its best friend the Exclamation Comma.
It’s a combo-Exclamation/Question mark, and it’s awesome. It is the glorious punctuational equivalent of saying OMGWTF?!
Hedera is Latin for ivy. Why that is relevant here is not very clear at all, but this little glyph was used back in the day to mark paragraph breaks. Seems like it was probably really hard and annoying to draw, but it looks nice.
This one’s also for paragraph breaks. Most people will be familiar with it, though not with the fact that it’s called a Pilcrow. It’s also referred to as “The Blind P,” which sounds like a good name for some hopelessly twee indie band. “Pilcrow” is the Middle English word for “Paragraph.” You will never be able to use that fun fact in real life.
Also called the Percontation Point and the Irony Mark, this one’s used to indicate that there’s another layer of meaning in a sentence. Usually a sarcastic or ironic one. So it is essentially a tool for smart people to use to make stupid people feel even stupider. Which makes it the best punctuation mark of all.