Punctuating the Pezzo

In his essay “In Praise of the Humble Comma” Pico Iyer writers “The gods, they say, give breath, and they take it away. But the same could be said – could it not – of the humble comma.”

Punctuation is like sheet music, he writes, “telling us where to rest, or when to raise our voices; it acknowledges that the meaning of our discourse, as of any symphonic composition, lies not in the units but in the pauses, the pacing and the phrasing.”

I love this! Punctuation is to words as notation is to music,  adding accent to notes, indicating where the crescendo should go, inserting a cheerful allegro non troppo, a slow-paced adiago, a strong fortissimo or a pulsing vibrato.

You get the idea.

The humble comma the most used – and misused – mark of punctuation. Read Iyer’s piece for a better idea of how to access its superpowers. It has the potential to turn our writing into song.