Spaces around punctuation (was: Is That an Emoticon in 1862? in NYT )

Damien Hall djh514 at YORK.AC.UK
Tue Jan 20 11:18:52 UTC 2009

_Re_ the comment about spaces before punctuation in (Ancient) Greek: FWIW,
written French (from France at least) often has a space before colons,
semi-colons, exclamation-marks and question-marks. In older styles, too,
though not so much now, you often used to see combinations of dashes with
either semi-colons or colons that would not be licit in (today's) English:
in other words, intercalated phrases between dashes where the intercalated
phrase also had a colon or a semi-colon at the end of it. This is a device
that I would sometimes have found very useful in English, to mark not only
that the thought between the dashes is parenthetical, but also that it
represents the end of one train of thought (which is marked by the

Unfortunately, and I do apologise, I have no sources by me here to cite.
But, if anyone is interested, I'm sure I could come up with examples.


Damien Hall

University of York
Department of Language and Linguistic Science
York YO10 5DD

Tel. (office) 01904 432665
     (mobile) 0771 853 5634
Fax  01904 432673

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list