Friday, November 1, 2013

Spectator paragraph of the week

In the 26 October issue Marcus Berkmann reviews Keith Huston’s Shady Characters, a book about punctuation marks. Quote unquote:
The pilcrow (¶) survives as a carriage-return marker in word-processing programs but was originally the sign for a new paragraph on medieval manuscripts. In fact, the indented space that now signifies a new paragraph was put in there for monks to draw in the pilcrow afterwards, only after a while they stopped bothering.
In other punctuation-related news, my current editing project is a new short-story collection by Vincent O’Sullivan. It’s a dream job – I remove a comma from one page and then insert one into the next. That’s all I have to do, really.  I’m a comma chameleon.

So here are Culture Club in 1983:


Mark Hubbard said...

There's another mystery solved for me. The pilcrow.

Stephen Stratford said...

It's a long time since I looked inside a Bible but I have a vague memory that in the very old ones each new verse had a pilcrow at the start. It's not a word I have ever used before and I doubt I will ever use it again, but I am glad to have met it.

lolitas brother said...

so was it mean dude can we write kerouac

Stephanie said...

Since word processing using a computer became commonplace the world has split into two camps: those who have the pilcrow on and those who don't. I started as the first and now are in the second.

However, if you have to work with MS Word for anything not straighforward, you need to know the name of it when troubleshooting - it has all the formatting in it and not understanding it's power will give you the proverbials.

It is so much more, now, than a paragraph place holder. Thank you Bill (yeh, right).