Infographic: The history of punctuation

Did you know that quotation marks originated as a set of sideways lips surrounding spoken words? Find out where your favorite punctuation marks got their start in this fun graphic.

We use punctuation every day, but have you ever stopped and wondered who invented that elaborate system of symbols and shapes that help us bring meaning to our writing?

Frankly, I hadn’t given it much thought until I saw this infographic from Arty Facts. It reveals a few interesting stories about who came up with the punctuation writers of today know and love.

For example, did you know that quotation marks got their start as sets of lips turned sideways to indicate that the words they surrounded were spoken?

Or perhaps you’re curious about where the period comes from. Send your thanks to the ancient Greeks. In Greek, “peri” means round. Greeks would put a small circle at the end of a sentence to indicate they had gone “all around” a subject.

As for the handy question mark, it had its humble beginnings as an accident. The question mark began as the Latin word “quastio.” Writers shortened it to a “Q” with a dot underneath, but many people confused the “Q” with the numeral “2,” which gave rise the question mark we know today.

Check out the full infographic for more on the history behind your favorite punctuation marks:

(View a larger image.)

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