9 comments on “5 Punctuation Marks That Look Nothing Like They Used To

  1. Comment posted by Korhomme on

    Your article mentions the octothorpe. Just while I think of it, a # is often used in surgical note taking in the UK. It means ‘a fracture’, so ‘# R femur’ or ‘# (R) femur’ translates as ‘[a] fracture of the [patient’s] right femur’. I don’t know how this usage came about.

    1. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      Hi Korhomme – I remember learning about that same usage when I broke my arm a few years ago. I have no idea where it came from either! Perhaps a medically-inclined reader can shed some light on it?

  2. Comment posted by Anonymous on

    When I read French, 40-odd years ago, quotation marks appeared like this <>. Do they still?

    1. Comment posted by John Cowan on

      More precisely, like this: « ». And yes, French typography still uses them. They also come in single versions: ‹ ›.

  3. Comment posted by wangi on

    And of course the diple had a resurgence for a while: quoting replies in plain text emails…

  4. Comment posted by Martijn van der Ven on

    What bothered me the most here is an article written about punctuation marks that uses ‘–’ (double dash) to punctuate interpolations rather than an actual ‘—’ (em-dash).

    1. Comment posted by Martijn van der Ven on

      Looks like WordPress changed my double dash for a single hyphen? Should have been ‘- -’ without the space.

    2. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      Hi Martin — yup, WordPress is a little more switched-on when it comes to punctuation than the Huffington Post’s blogging platform. I tried pasting in em-dashes, smart quotes and the like, but they were all transformed into their typewritten equivalents.

      Thanks for the comment!

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