History of Punctuation by Polly M. Robertus
The educational reforms of Charlemagne led to the invention of lower case
letters which could be written and read much faster / Phrases and sentence endings
were indicated either by ..
. or by a slash/
As time went on writers looked for more ways to clarify meaning / In
medieval music notation they found a way to indicate how a voice should rise or fall
at the end of a sentence or phrase. Can you hear your voice rise at the end of a
question? Our question mark came directly from medieval music notation. When a
long sentence broke in the middle; they put a new mark that became our semi
colon and colon. The hy-phen appeared as two lines instead of one.
Around A.D. 1500 the indented paragraph appeared, as did the comma and
period as we know them. Printers of the Renaissance invented new marks like the
exclamation points and quotation marks. By that time, people were commonly
reading silently, and punctuation came to depend more on grammatical groups than
breath groups.(Parentheses and dashes appeared with the advent of printing.)
By the end of the seventeenth century, our punctuation system was in place for
the most part, though sometimes details varied. Just think, though: After only a few
lessons in school;and with lots of practice reading and writing;you can boast that
you've mastered a system that took westerners many centuries to develop.