18 August 2015

The mysterious Punctuation Appreciation Society

On 24 April 2015 the Australian Financial Review published an excellent piece on punctuation and punctuation marks by Rosie Blau – China correspondent and columnist for The Economist – under the heading Julian Barnes, Claire Messud and the punctuation appreciation society.
I suspect that the editor may have removed the passage explaining the references to author and translator Julian Barnes (he translated Alphonse Daudet's In the Land of Pain from the French), American novelist Claire Messud, and the mysterious punctuation appreciation society which does not appear to have a dedicated website.

A couple of quotes to whet your appetite

On the dash – here with a space on either side; my preferred form by far in all but the most compact layouts.
The dash has an obvious appeal for those who relish a backhand sweep – and to hell with the words that precede or follow it.
The elegance of the en or em dash is best understood when working with metal type, with which we used to print books. Measure the sharp-edged dash up against the letter “n" or “m". The space the dash occupies is the exact width of the letter. “Letters are signs for sounds," wrote typeface designer Eric Gill; the dash fills the silent space where a sound would otherwise be.
On the exclamation mark.
In French it is much less forceful, so the translator of, say, Madame Bovary will have to prune up to 30 per cent of Flaubert’s exclamation marks. When Emma Bovary and Rodolphe are romantically moon-gazing, and Rodolphe enthuses, “Ah! la belle nuit!", one if not both of those marks would have to go.

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After completing a BSc in physics and maths in Australia and extended travels in Africa I found a job in Paris that left me with considerab...