[Ads-l] 18thC Punctuation Query.

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM
Wed Feb 8 04:09:46 EST 2017

In _News from Whetstones Park_ (1674), printed (and probably also written) by
David Mallet, the punctuation in the narrative portion is as expected, with a
careful (and conventional) use of semicolons and full stops.  However, in the
dialogue portion, between Mrs. Jilt (a bawd) and Doll Tiremon (a whore),
sentences are frequently separated by commas rather than full stops.

Thus, for example:

"_Whore_. You Harbour me, you old rotten Cannon-Basket, ‘Tis well-known I was
Courted to come and Lodge in the civilest Houses in the Park, Persons that have
other Guests than yours, Gentlemen all in Pantaloons and Lacquies attending
them, I abuse your Customers you Tun-bellied Jade, I know none you have but none
you have, but Foot-Boys, Journeymen Taylors, some Shabby Clarks in a long
Vacation, and now and then a City Prentice, all those that are worth a Womans
while to keep Company with; I am forced to get in by my own Industry, and if
they give me a piece or two for a Civility, do you think you shall have it you
old Shrivel’d Hagg?"

Has anyone come across a similar example in this period (late 18thC) of
punctuation used thus to characterise spoken material?

It seems to me both deliberate, and unusual.

Robin Hamilton

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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