*** DEBUG END ***

Origin of the semicolon

16 October 2015


From Mr Zachary Guiliano

Sir, — Forgive the palaeographic pedantry, but in an otherwise fine salute to an outstanding charity (Comment, 25 September), Peter Graystone expressed a sort of half-truth: that the semicolon was invented by Aldus Manutius in 1494. What we call a semicolon has been in existence since at least the eighth century, in slightly varied forms, depending on the tendencies of individual scribes and their centres of training.

Moreover, different marks with similar functions have been in use since antiquity. At best, Aldus Manutius managed to express in typography what scribes had expressed by hand for many years. This is true of italic founts as well.


St John’s College
Cambridge CB2 1TP

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear alongside your letter.

The Church Times Podcast

Interviews and news analysis from the Church Times team. Listen to this week’s episode online

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)