Did you know that, in the United States, September 24th is National Punctuation Day? Jeff Rubin founded this holiday in 2004 in an effort to promote correct punctuation use.
People everywhere can celebrate this day by improving their writing with effective punctuation. Read on to learn some fun facts about punctuation and our top ways to celebrate.
The History of Punctuation
The earliest record of using punctuation in writing dates back to 840 B.C. in the Mesha Stele, which contains an inscription in the name of King Mesha of Moab. Later on, in 200 B.C., the Greeks began using a rudimentary punctuation system to indicate pauses in lines of text.
When copies of the Bible were printed in large quantities, punctuation became crucial so that its readers would know when to pause and where to place emphasis. From then on, the use of punctuation became widespread.
Fun Facts About Punctuation
Did you know that the question mark used to be a word? The Romans would end a question with the word “questio,” which was gradually shortened over time and eventually morphed into the symbol we know today.
It’s also neat to learn how the alphabet has changed over the years. The ampersand symbol used to be included in the alphabet, listed after the letter “z.” It was even part of the beloved alphabet song of the time, with the ending being “z and per se.”
Celebrating National Punctuation Day
National Punctuation Day has its own website where you’ll find a new punctuation challenge every September 24th. The founder shares punctuation games, challenges, and ideas for teachers. In addition to participating in those, here are some ideas to make the most of this national holiday:
● Go on a hunt for punctuation errors. This can include digging through your morning newspaper, going to a library or bookstore to find punctuation errors in a book, and looking out for punctuation mishaps in signs, posters, and billboards as you walk around town. If you spot a good one, be sure to send it in to the official website to commemorate the holiday and/or post it on social media using the hashtag #PunctuationDay or #NationalPunctuationDay.
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● Make punctuation-shaped treats, such as cookies, bread, or even meatloaf! You could also decorate a cake or rearrange the pepperonis on a pizza to show off your favorite punctuation mark. These activities can be especially fun for kids, so make sure you get them in on the action!
● Send an email to your friends with nearly perfect punctuation – except for one error. Challenge them to spot the mistake.
● Debate the use of the Oxford (or serial) comma with your coworkers or classmates or in an online forum. Be careful, though – it can get heated!
The best way to show your appreciation for the importance of good punctuation is to use it effectively in your writing. But, of course, everyone makes mistakes, and even the most skilled punctuation users might miss errors in their own writing!
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