Miscellany № 78: catching up

So: time to catch up! Here are a few links to punctuational goings-on from the past couple of months.

First up, pan-European typefoundry Underware recently took some time to dive into the importance of the pointing hand, or manicule (☞). It’s an old mark, hailing back to the days when the readers of manuscripts and early printed books would draw little pointing hands in the margins to call attention to passages of interest. Though the manicule survived in print, it gradually slid from its previously exalted position, yielding the job of linking footnotes and text to the likes of the asterisk (*) and dagger (†). And yet, in common with the ampersand (&) and the pilcrow (¶), the manicule continues to offer discerning type designers a chance to flex their creative muscles. As Underware’s unnamed writer says in “There you go”,

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Maximal meaning in minimal space: the history of punctuation

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Miscellany № 10

Shady characters seem to be popping up in the mainstream media more and more regularly these days. Having discussed its signature use of the diaeresis only a few weeks ago, this month the New Yorker turns its attention to the ‘þ’, or ‘thorn’, a medieval consonant used to represent a ‘th’ sound. In a post on the magazine’s book blog, Mary Norris explains how she shepherded a stray thorn through the composition and proofreading processes — and apparently met with very little resistance in doing so. This heartens me as to the prospects for the Shady Characters book; the ‘þ’ is positively prosaic compared to some of the Unicode mining I’ve been engaged in of late.

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