A comparative study of the first treatises on punctuation written in English (1672-1704): terminology and function of punctuation
Beatriz Medina-Sánchez, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, España
Alicia Rodríguez-Álvarez, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, España
Beatriz Medina-Sánchez y Alicia Rodríguez-Álvarez, 2015: "A comparative study of the first treatises on punctuation written in English (1672-1704): terminology and function of punctuation", Onomázein 31, 99-112.
DOI: 10.7764/onomazein.31.7

Abstract:
During the 16th and the 17th centuries, textbooks and handbooks of English grammar had been including brief sections on punctuation, but it is only at the end of the 17th century that punctuation becomes the focus of interest of a single volume; thus, the first work whose title announces rule providing guidance on the use of punctuation is published in 1672. Those grammars and handbooks that had dealt with these rules had presented punctuation marks from a grammatical or syntactic perspective; however, in the mid 17th century and beginnings of the 18th century, a new function, closely related to oral reading, is attributed to these marks: the rhetorical function. This duality in the way of assuming punctuation has been and still is a subject of concern among many scholars who try to elucidate its ultimate primary function. In this sense, this study intends to be the first contribution so far to the understanding of the first three treatises on the use of punctuation printed in England around the last quarter of the 17th century and the beginnings of the 18th century. This analysis will allow, first, to establish the importance and the different functions attributed to punctuation; second, to carry out a comparative study of the different punctuation marks used in these three treatises and the different terms applied to name them; and, finally, to identify the sources of the examples included to illustrate the use of these punctuation marks.