PUNCTUATION—WHAT’S TRENDING. Henry Hitchings had an article in the Wall Street Journal (October 22-23) which traces the history of punctuation: no punctuation in early manuscripts; over 30 different punctuation marks in the medieval period. Parentheses came in around 1500; commas came in around 1520. Hitchings thinks that the internet is making for less punctuation, in part because of “the taste for visual crispness”. As for particular punctuation marks, the semicolon is being used less; dashes are being used more; the hyphen is being used less; and the apostrophe is disappearing. Hitchings attributes the fate of the apostrophe to graphic designers, who dislike apostrophes as unaesthetic clutter. I was pleased to see that the hyphen is disappearing between two halves of a compound noun. I never liked that usage, although I don’t know why. I always liked the semicolon.

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