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HOWAREYOUIAMFINE This is how "How are you? I am fine!" might have looked 1,200 years ago.
(1) At one time or another, most of us have become frustrated trying to learn the highly prescribed punctuation system that directs our use of marks such as periods, commas, and semicolons. (2) But long ago, people did not have fixed rules to circumscribe their writing.
Ancient Greeks had little punctuation and didn't separate written words. However, sometimes the Greeks placed the first letter of a new paragraph in the margin. This paragraph (literally, "writing beside") system is the ancestor of the one we use today. The ancient Romans also ran words together and almost completely lacked a system of punctuation. (3) Occasionally, they separated words on stone inscriptions by using dots.
(4) The first formal punctuation system, developed in Egypt, is ascribed to Aristophanes, the head of the library in Alexandria. In his system, a centered dot acted as a comma; a low dot as a colon; and a high dot indicated a very long pause. Unfortunately, this system was not widely used.
(5) Like their Greek and Roman ancestors, the scribes of the early Middle Ages wrote words without separations. (6) Although difficult to read, their handwritten manuscripts of the scriptures were beautiful. (7) Often writing in Latin, the scribes carefully noted accents, using subscripts and superscripts. Punctuation. though, was not consistent.
In 781, the great Frankish emperor Charlemagne became tired of difficult-to-read text. He summoned an English clergyman, Alcuin, who developed a system that all monks were required to study. It was the first system to include lowercase letters, spaces between words, and the use of capitals to begin sentences. This decreased, but did not eliminate, variations in spelling and punctuation usage.
With the invention of the printing press in the 1400s, people finally became used to seeing words in a more standardized form. (8) However, even then, alternate or phonetic spellings were not as proscribed as they are today. For example, during his lifetime, William Shakespeare's name was spelled numerous different ways, including "Shakespere," "Shakespear," and "Shakspeare." Gradually, the influence of dictionaries, mass literacy, and education led to a standardization of spelling.
By the 1600s, people began to incorporate additional punctuation marks into the writing system. (9) Transcriptions of speech were marked by quotation marks. Exclamation points came from io, the Latin word for "joy." This word was often shown as a capital I set over a lowercase o.
(10) The pages of today's Without punctuation, books may be nondescript in signs such as this one appearance compared with the can be confusing! beautiful manuscripts of the Middle Ages, but at least we know where words and sentences begin and end. Still, we may not be finished inventing punctuation. The "interrobang," proposed in the 1960 s, combines an exclamation point and a question mark, and is used to end a simultaneous question and exclamation. Other new punctuation marks are constantly being suggested, such as the mark ( ) to indicate that a statement was meant to be sarcastic. This would be helpful when corresponding via e-mail or instant messaging.
Indicate whether the statements below are TRUE or FALSE according to the passage.
Ancient Greeks and Romans couldn't read because of the lack of word spaces and punctuation.