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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Why We Punctuate, by William Livingston Klein This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org. If you are not located in the United States, you'll have to check the laws of the country where you are located befo
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  The Project Gutenberg EBook of Why We Punctuate, by William Livingston KleinThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and mostother parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictionswhatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms ofthe Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online atwww.gutenberg.org. If you are not located in the United States, you'll haveto check the laws of the country where you are located before using this ebook.Title: Why We Punctuate or Reason Versus Rule in the Use of MarksAuthor: William Livingston KleinRelease Date: October 15, 2014 [EBook #47126]Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ASCII*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK WHY WE PUNCTUATE ***Produced by Chris Curnow, Turgut Dincer and the OnlineDistributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (Thisfile was produced from images generously made availableby The Internet Archive) WHY WE PUNCTUATE OR REASON VERSUS RULE IN THE USE OF MARKS BY WILLIAM LIVINGSTON KLEIN  Punctuation seems to be an art based upon rules without congruity, and derived from practice without uniformity.  SECOND EDITION--ENTIRELY REWRITTEN MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA THE LANCET PUBLISHING COMPANY 1916   COPYRIGHT, 1916, BY WILLIAM LIVINGSTON KLEIN ALL RIGHTS RESERVED TO MY WIFEwho during the many years the subject of punctuation has occupied myattention has ever been ready, with great intelligence and helpfulness,to discuss with me the intricate and often dull problems whichpunctuation presents THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED IN LOVING APPRECIATIONPREFACEThe first edition of this work was published in 1896, and the treatmentof the subject was so highly commended by many leading men andperiodicals of the country that the entire edition, though a large one,was soon exhausted. In spite of this favorable commendation, which mayhave been due to my effort to set forth reasons, instead of rules,for the use of marks, I had a keen sense of certain shortcomings inthe work, and have long been unwilling to permit its reprinting orto undertake its rewriting. At least one of the reasons--and I hopethe principal one--why the work fell short of my ideal of the bookneeded, was the inevitable failure inherent in the mode of treating thesubject. As a sentence may contain the four principal marks (comma,semicolon, colon, and period) and, in addition, one or more of theother marks, a writer courts failure if, in treating the difficultart of punctuation, he deals with the marks separately, beginning, asall writers, myself included, have hitherto done, with the comma, themost difficult mark to understand, and proceeding, one at a time, withthe other marks. Failure follows this mode of treatment because itdisregards the interrelation of marks and the relations between groupsof words to be interpreted by marks.In this edition, which has been entirely rewritten, I have endeavoredto avoid the fault of such mode of treatment, and have dealt, fromthe outset, with groups of interrelated marks, exhibiting, forinstance, in a single illustrative sentence (No. 6) the four principalmarks in their interrelation as affected by the sense relations ofthe language of the sentence. I believe that this treatment of thesubject of punctuation is the only logical one; and because of thelack of a logical treatment of the subject it is no exaggeration tosay that almost utter chaos as regards punctuation which is helpfulto both reader and writer, exists everywhere, inside and outside ofprinting-offices.In the preface of the first edition I said it was a remarkable factthat the subject of punctuation had been very inadequately treated,as evidenced by the existence at that time of only a single treatiseon punctuation in the English language, and by the total absence ofany consideration of it in periodical literature. This assertion,  with slight modification, is true today. An admirable essay by Mr.Phillips Garrison, sometime editor of _The Nation_, appeared in the _Atlantic Monthly_ for August, 1906. This essay, which deals withthe interchangeability of marks, only confounds the confusion ofpunctuation. Mr. Garrison admits that the more the difficulties of theart of punctuation are faced and considered, the fuller becomes ourunderstanding of the principles which do underlie the convention thatmakes punctuation correct or faulty. One of his illustrative examplesexhibiting the interchangeability of three marks, is discussed herein;and an effort is made to discover the principles that determine thecorrect punctuation of the example, and to show that the marks used byhim are not interchangeable. No other article on punctuation is foundin the world's great mass of periodical literature listed in Americanlibrary Indexes.The one treatise referred to above is the work of Mr. John Wilson,which, it may safely be asserted, is the only _treatise_ on the subjectin English. It is a masterful work, exhibiting an amount of researchand a degree of acumen probably unexcelled in the preparation of atext-book on any subject. In spite of this fact, I think the work isso minute, so voluminous, and so lacking in scientific generalization,as to make mastery of its great number of rules, with remarks andexceptions equivalent to rules, an exceedingly difficult and, to many,an impossible task. Mr. Wilson's work was first published in 1826.The excellent handbook of Mr. Marshall T. Bigelow, published in 1881,is merely a summary of the principal rules of Mr. Wilson's work. Itsbriefness greatly limits its value.The work, entitled Punctuation, of Mr. F. Horace Teall, publishedin 1897, is also an admirable handbook, but it gives more space tospelling than to punctuation. It gives only four pages, very smallones, to the consideration of the colon; and two of the colon'sprincipal uses, discussed at length herein, are not mentioned.Mr. Theodore L. De Vinne, the founder of the well-known De Vinne Press,published his Correct Composition in 1901. This work is indeed atreatise, but a treatise on printing, not on punctuation. Its treatmentof punctuation is somewhat iconoclastic, radically so at points. Someof its rules are excellent, but others are well-nigh incomprehensible.The University of Chicago Press issued its Manual of Style in 1906,and its Manual for Writers in 1913. The latter work is edited byProfessor John Matthews Manly, head of the Department of English in theUniversity of Chicago, and Mr. John Arthur Powell, of the University ofChicago Press. These Manuals, in their treatment of punctuation, arepractically identical, and each devotes less than thirty pages to thesubject. Their rules are brief, clear, and comprehensive; but theirinconsistencies in the use of marks are so great as to be exceedinglypuzzling.The Riverside Press, which for many years maintained the reputation ofbeing one of the three or four most painstaking printing establishmentsin the world, recently issued a small Handbook of Style, settingforth the style in use by that Press; but it also contains many errorsand inconsistencies in punctuation, which lessen its value.I have assumed, for several reasons, the seeming impropriety ofcriticising the above books: (1) they are recognized as the bestauthorities on the conventional use of marks, I acknowledge my  indebtedness to them, and I show my appreciation of them by quoting noothers in my discussion of the subject; (2) criticism of usage by anyother class of writers is worthless; (3) my own work, if it will notstand comparison with the above-named works, has no value, and I invitesuch comparison by my specific criticism of some of their exampleswhich exhibit the fundamental principles of punctuation.In no work known to me has an attempt been made to show the senserelations between parts of language with such relations indicated bymarks, themselves differentiated by these sense relations. A singleillustration will serve to show the truth of this broad assertionconcerning the sense relations between groups of words determined bymarks, yet not recognized by writers on punctuation. Practically allsuch writers use a comma after _etc._, the comma of course followingthe period. The two Manuals of the University of Chicago Press and theHandbook of The Riverside Press specifically name this as the properpunctuation. That such punctuation disregards the sense relationsdetermined by the meaning of language, is proved, I think, beyondquestion by illustrative Sentence 7-1 herein.If my own work is of any value, or possesses any degree of srcinality,it is to be found in my efforts to show that the sense relationsbetween groups of words are a large factor in determining the meaningof language, and that a mark of punctuation, or even its absence,sometimes determines a sense relation, and at other times only servesreadily to point it out. Neither the comma in illustrative Sentence1-1 nor the semicolons in Sentence 7 determine meanings: they simplysuggest them. The absence of commas in Sentence 3, and their presencein Sentence 3-1, determine meanings.As the difficulties in punctuation arise largely from the subtlerelations between groups of words into which all language, often thesimplest, is divided, the study of punctuation becomes in realitythe study of language. Upon the importance attached to the clearunderstanding and correct use of language, depends the value ofpunctuation.I desire to express my high appreciation of the helpful suggestionsand criticisms made by three friends, each of whom has read the proofof this work one or more times, bringing to the arduous task largeknowledge of the subtle principles of punctuation and of language. Ofthese friends, Mr. W. F. Webster, Principal of the East High School,Minneapolis, is well known in educational circles as a teacher ofEnglish, as a lecturer, and as the author of a widely used text-bookon composition and literature. Mr. S. R. Winchell, of Chicago, islikewise well known in educational circles as a high-school and collegeteacher, and as the author of several text-books on English and Latin.Dr. William Davis, of St. Paul, is an unusually critical scholar and alover of good English, with an extensive editorial experience. Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 1, 1916.CONTENTS CHAPTER PAGE
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