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6. Capitalize the initial letter of the first word of a complete example or direct quotation-e.g.:
“Honesty is the best policy." 7. Capitalize the initial letters of the days of the week and month, festivals, holy days, and days of historic significance.
8. Capitalize prefixes, as D', Da, De, Di, Van, Von, when not preceded by a given name. If a given name precedes the surname, the first letter of the prefix should be a small one. However, this rule is not always strictly adhered to.
9. Capitalize the initial letter of names of political or special significance-as, the Middle Ages, the Elizabethan Period, the Great Reformation, Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Liberal, Nationalist, Church, State, etc.
10. Capitalize the initial letter of all titles of dignity-as, President, Chief Justice, Bishop, Senator, etc., when these precede the surnames of dignitaries.
II. Capitalize the initial letters of all geographic names-as, Bermuda, Gulf of Mexico, North Sea, North River, Rocky Mountains.
NOTE: The seasons of the year and the words earth, sun, and moon, being regarded as nouns, are not written with initial capital letters. The names of planets and stars should be written with capital initial letters, as they stand for personifications of certain mythical deities.
The use of the punctuation-marks or points for the purpose of clearly showing the sense or relation of words is comparatively recent. In ancient writings words were run together successively without break or pause-mark. Not until Aldus Manutius, who flourished in the fifteenth century, and evolved the main features of our system and used them in his books, was attention given to a subject of first importance so far as writing and printing are concerned.
Few, indeed, are the persons who to-day would endorse the view on the subject of punctuation entertained by Blair and expressed by him in his
'Rhetoric” (p. 121): “It is in vain to propose by arbitrary punctuation to amend the defects of a sentence, to correct its ambiguity, or to prevent its confusion." The absurdity of this contention may be aptly illustrated by the following riddle from Halliwell's “Nursery Rhymes" :
“Every lady in this land
Punctuation will help to solve this riddle quickly. Insert a semicolon after the word
nails" in the second line, and a comma after the word five in the third line. Thus, the riddle would read :
Every lady in the land
Earle says: “The sentence which would be ambiguous without stops is a badly constructed sentence," and the following, cited by Mr. De Vinne,' helps to prove it :
“The prisoner said the witness was thief."
In this sentence the stigma is placed on the witness, but the fact is that it should have been put on the prisoner; so:
“The prisoner, said the witness, was thief."
Every manuscript should be carefully punctuated before it is submitted to a publisher or sent to the printer. By paying particular attention to this, authors will be able not only to insure the correct interpretation of their thoughts,
1 The Practise of Typography, p. 260.
but also to remove the liability of being misread, and be able to reduce the expense usually incurred for correction.
If an author possesses an accurate knowledge of punctuation, as well as the faculty to apply this knowledge consistently, he can not afford to trust to the printer for the correct punctuation (which often means also the correct interpretation of the meaning) of his manuscript. If he be not qualified to attend to the subject himself, he would better call in expert help or request his publisher to have the work done for him.
If, as is claimed by Wendell, “Punctuation is to do for the eye what emphasis does for the ear,” then it is an important appanage of style, and, as such, authors should jealously preserve it. Needless punctuating is both bad and costly—as bad and as costly as omitting punctuation when it is necessary. Yet if punctuation is to do for the eye what emphasis does for the ear, how will it fare in the hands of a writer of spasmodic temperament? Probably as poorly as would emphasis at the lips of a man who stutters.
Two styles of punctuation are in use to-day. One is termed " close," the other“ open.” Close punctuation is formal and constrained, and lacks the natural flow of words which open punctuation produces. Close punctuation is to be found often
in English books printed in the eighteenth and early in the nineteenth centuries. The practise of writing sentences of inordinate length made close punctuation necessary to their correct interpretation. When the short and direct sentence superseded its clumsy predecessor, open punctuation was practised. But there is a class of writers of even short sentences that follows the practise now almost abandoned in England, and preserved only by lawyers and pedants in the United States. On this subject Mr. De Vinne says that “a comparison of the punctuation of early and late editions of English classics will show that the tendency of modern editors is to a more sparing use of points." !
Punctuation is of four kinds:
1. Grammatical punctuation, used to indicate a greater or less degree of separation in the relations of the thought, as by division into sentences, clauses, and phrases, to aid in the better comprehension of the meaning and grammatical relation of the words.
The points used in grammatical punctuation are: the comma (,); the semicolon (;); the colon (:); the period or full point (.), and the dash (-).
2. Rhetorical punctuation is used to mark some peculiarity in expression. 1 The Practise of Typography, p. 292.