You Have a Point There: A Guide to Punctuation and Its Allies

By Eric Partridge | Go to book overview
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Appendix I


EVERY SCHOOL and college textbook on English grammar and composition contains sections on punctuation and its accessories. Those sections mislead either by excessive brevity or by sheer perfunctoriness or by an inhuman rigidity.

If I appear to ignore the University of Chicago's A Manual of Style, anonymous but important, and the excellent work done by such scholars as Canby, Krapp, Leonard, Hulbert, Marckwardt, Perrin, and others, it is because American practice is virtually the same as British and because Professor John W. Clark has ably dealt with the differences. The greatest difference of all is that American punctuation tends to become rather monotonous: see, for instance, T.L. de Vinne's Correct Composition, 1901, and the aforementioned Manual of Style, which, sound and thorough, to at least one student seem almost Procrustean.

Of the British works rising above the level of schoolbooks, we may note : -

1863: HENRY ALFORD, The Queen's English; 7th edition, 1888. The spiritual father of the Fowler brothers.

1872: ALEXANDER BAIN, A Higher English Grammar, revised edition, 1879.

1880: HENRY BEADNELL, Spelling and Punctuation. Good; but very much from the printer's standpoint and, like Bain, out of date.

1884: PAUL ALLARDYCE (i.e. GEORGE PAUL MACDONELL), “Stops”: or, How to Punctuate. A small, practical handbook.

1893: HORACE HART, Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University Press; 36th edition, 1952. Tersely admirable.

1905: T.F. & M.F.A.HUSBAND, Punctuation, Its Principles and Practice. Valuable for the history-dependable (and unimaginative) for the practice-of punctuation.

1905: F.HOWARD COLL INS, Authors' and Printers' Dictionary; latest revised edition (the 9th edition), 1946. Briefly excellent.

1906: H.W. & F.G.FOWLER, The King's English; 3rd edition,

1930. Very good indeed; still better, perhaps, is the more compact treatment in-

1926: H.W.FOWLER, A Dictionary of Modern English Usage; many, many reprints, but no new edition. Excellent, although perhaps a shade too academic.


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