Aristophanes is now one of my favorite people in history. Well-renowned for his studies of Homer, he became head of the library of Alexandria around 200 BC. But there was a major problem with language at the time. It was hard to understand! There were no spaces, lowercase letters, or punctuation. This could get quite annoying, so Aristophanes decided to invent a whole new system of punctuation. Specifically, three different types of spaces between parts of sentences, but he was a pioneer in the field. The "comma" was the shortest pause, and was notated by a single dot in the middle of a line of text (this later drifted down and developed a curvature). The "colon" was the intermediate pause, and was notated by a single dot at the bottom of a line of text (another, middle dot was later added). The "period" was at the top of a line of text and was the longest kind of pause (this dropped to the bottom, of course). Although this was very rudimentary, all other punctuation would come from or be inspired by Aristophane's three pauses, so this is very cool.
Adam Aleksic is a 220-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard College in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd