It’s easy to overlook the importance of empty space as a form of punctuation. Certainly, I’m guilty of giving pride of place to visible marks such as the pilcrow (¶) and interrobang (‽). But this isn’t to ignore the groundbreaking invention of the word space in the medieval period; the disappearance of the pilcrow to create the paragraph indent; or, most recently, the use of variable-length spaces as pauses in Patrick Stewart’s 2015 PhD thesis. Also recently, I was encouraged to look again at the subject of whitespace-as-punctuation by a visit to the Science Museum here in London.
In lieu of a post this week, head over to BBC.com’s Culture section to read my article about “The Mysterious Origins of Punctuation” — it’s hot off the presses! Want to chat about it? Post a comment here or over at the related Facebook post. Shady Characters readers will be right at home, and I hope you enjoy it!