I woke up this morning wondering what genius first invented parentheses. (But who hasn’t awakened to this question pinging around in her noggin? I mean. Right?)
There are a couple directions I could go with my opening line, I guess. I could maybe talk about what Freud might say to someone who wakes up thinking about parentheses. Or I could tell you about other weird things I wake up thinking about. But I think, for the purpose of this blog, I shall not go there today. (And, trust me, you would be grateful for that, if you but knew.)
I googled, and sifted, and found an article (it uses a lot of really nifty-sounding words like “overemotive” and “ellipsis” and it’s written by an Australian, so I figure it’s got to be good, right?) that I think provides the best answer to my parentheses question: “There is little to remark on in the use of default punctuation, other than the overemotive use of the ellipsis and exclamation mark—shared at least with Italian. (A comment which proves how culturally Australian I am…) The full stop was taken over from Greek by the Romans, as were the middle and high dot initially; the comma appears to have been invented independently in the two scripts in the 9th century (Thompson 1912:60-61). The other shared punctuation—exclamation mark, parentheses, dashes, ellipses, quotation marks—are Renaissance innovations, introduced into Greek from Latin script. (The colon was arguably anticipated several times before in the history of Greek and Latin punctuation, but not in its current function.)” http://www.tlg.uci.edu/~opoudjis/unicode/punctuation.html
Thank goodness for those Renaissance innovators!
What would we (especially we who ramble off into digressions and tangents) do without parentheses? How would we function? How would we communicate? Shackled within the confines of the linear, the chronological, and the on-topic, random-thinkers such as myself would be doomed to wander the internet, looking for refuge and solace, unable to express ourselves freely – dejected, rejected – solitary creatures adrift in an abyss of straight lines and checklists and stuff.
And no, I do not know what I’m talking about, really. But what else is new?
–Karen “Wingoov” Molenaar Terrell