Artemy Lebedev

§ 133. Double comma

June 2, 2006

Semicolon (;) is believed to be invented by Aldus Manutius the elder. In the elapsed almost five centuries nobody seems to have gotten the knack of using this sign the way it was intended. Foreign writers use semicolon every so often; Russian writers usually avoid it.

We suggest that, instead of a semicolon, a new sign consisting of two commas (,,) be introduced to mark a pause in reading. Both in terms of its graphic properties and intonation the double comma is much better suited for marking a pause.

The author knows how typographical innovations end up—few of them ever make it to the big league. However, unlike the presently unpopular interrobang (a questlamation mark—a hybrid of a question mark and an exclamation point proposed by Martin K. Speckter in 1962), the double comma may prove to be in high demand and useful in today’s texts.

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