Hyphen and Dash

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Once again, Truss's light tone of teaching made it easy for me to understand punctuation, which is a challenge within itself. The two chapters, "Cutting a Dash" and "At Little Used Punctuation Mark," touched on subjects dealing with punctuation that I know I take for granted. For example, when someone says exlamation point, I automatically think that I know what that means. However, when I look at how often I really use it (basically never), I can't say that it's familiar to me at all. The other thing that opened my eyes was the section on italics. I honestly have to say that I did not know the rules for the difference between italics and quotation marks. Though my attention was focused mostly on the dash and the hyphen these earlier tips really reinforced what I once learned long ago in a place called public school where I recieved something called an education.

The tip that I feel helped me most with the dash was on page 159.
"Yet the dash need not be silly. The word has identical roots with the verb "to dash" (deriving from the Middle English verb dasshen, meaning "to knock", to hurl, to break") and the point is that a single dash creates a dramatic disjunction which can be exploited for humour, for bathos, for shock. "Wait for it," the single dash seems to whisper, with a twinkle if you're lucky."

To me, this makes the "complicated" concept of learning punctuation easier to think about. And more fun... or should I say funner?

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3 Comments

Andy I agree with you on your point that this concept of learning where and how to use punctuation is easier, but it is also a little hard at times to fully comprehend what she is saying. However, I do think that she does a great job throughout the book with showing and telling.
I think that hypens and dashes should just be swept up and put in the trash. I mean, I rarely use them and I dont think i will more after these chapters.

Andy I agree with you on your point that this concept of learning where and how to use punctuation is easier, but it is also a little hard at times to fully comprehend what she is saying. However, I do think that she does a great job throughout the book with showing and telling.
I think that hypens and dashes should just be swept up and put in the trash. I mean, I rarely use them and I dont think i will more after these chapters.
I also agree with you on the use of italics. I only used it for titles and that is it. But now i see the other ways I could use italics. Thanks Truss.

The fact that Truss gives us the history and reasoning behind the punctuation really allows it to make sense. It's one thing to just be taught "these are the rules and that's it," but it's totally different when you know why they are the rules.

I think its great to learn about how much influence the 15th century printmakers had on our punctuation today.

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This page contains a single entry by Andy published on April 9, 2006 8:56 PM.

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