Making a Point Book Summary - Making a Point Book explained in key points
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Making a Point summary

David Crystal

The Persnickety Story of English Punctuation

3.7 (16 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

Making a Point by David Crystal is an exploration of the art of punctuation, including its history, different punctuation marks, and their functions. It provides practical advice on how to use punctuation effectively to improve writing clarity and coherence.

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    Making a Point
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    Punctuation serves important functions, but it didn’t always exist.

    Let's say you're on the street and see a sign for a café that says "SOUPOFTHEDAY” seemingly written as one long word in order to squeeze it onto the sign. You probably wouldn't have much trouble figuring out what it says, but you’d most likely appreciate some spaces between the words.

    That’s more or less the story of punctuation: we could live without it, but having these marks, or in the case of spaces, a lack thereof, makes for a more enjoyable reading experience.

    For instance, punctuation improves our ability to understand by reducing ambiguities – but this tool wasn't always around. The first languages contained no spaces between words and it was only around 700 AD that spaces became the norm in England. And even by 1100 AD, only around half of inscriptions used spaces.

    But as strange as it may seem today, it actually made sense then. With so few inscribed words in existence, spaces weren’t necessary for comprehension. After all, inscriptions about people and places tended to be unambiguous, making it unnecessary to divide the words. For example, someone could easily read the name of their local church, “STAGNES” as, “St. Agnes.”

    Today, while spaces still aren’t essential, they save us the time of decoding ambiguous statements and, although we don’t use them when we speak, these breaks are useful when reading a new text. For example, “therapistsneedspecialtreatment” could be read as both “Therapists need special treatment” and “The rapists need special treatment.”

    In other words, it’s great if everyone knows a text and what it intends to communicate. But when reading a sentence for the first time, spaces save us the trouble of having to crack this code.

    In this way, punctuation makes language easier, but it can also be used to make things stand out. For instance, quotation marks used to be the go-to punctuation used for emphasis, but since quotes signify other things as well, typographical styles like italics came into use as emphatic punctuation.

    Nowadays, italics are giving way to bold type as a way to add emphasis. This shift is due to the fact that more text is read on computer screens, the lower resolution of which can make italics difficult to read.

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    What is Making a Point about?

    Making a Point (2015) is all about punctuation, the little marks that tie written language together. These blinks explain what function punctuation serves, why it can become a heated topic of discussion and how writers have used it creatively for years.

    Making a Point Review

    Making a Point by David Crystal (2015) is a thought-provoking exploration of the power of language and how it shapes our lives. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • Crystal's vast knowledge and expertise in linguistics provide readers with valuable insights into the intricacies of language.
    • The book seamlessly combines research, historical examples, and personal anecdotes to offer a comprehensive understanding of how language impacts communication.
    • With its engaging storytelling and accessible writing style, Making a Point captivates readers and ensures that even complex linguistic concepts are not boring.

    Best quote from Making a Point

    In antiquity, to encounter someone reading silently was sufficiently unusual that it could elicit a comment.

    —David Crystal
    example alt text

    Who should read Making a Point?

    • Anyone who writes
    • Students of language or literature
    • Grammar nerds

    About the Author

    David Crystal is an Irish linguist and author. He’s worked on over a hundred books across a range of fields. He also wrote How Language Works and co-authored Shakespeare’s Words, both of which are best sellers.

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    Making a Point FAQs 

    What is the main message of Making a Point?

    The main message of Making a Point is about the power and importance of effective communication.

    How long does it take to read Making a Point?

    The reading time for Making a Point varies, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Making a Point a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Making a Point is a valuable read for anyone interested in improving their communication skills. It provides practical insights and tips for effective communication.

    Who is the author of Making a Point?

    David Crystal is the author of Making a Point.

    What to read after Making a Point?

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