General Patterns of Punctuation in the Paston Letters

  • Javier Calle-Martín, Dr U. Málaga
  • Jacob Thaisen, Dr U. Oslo
Keywords: Paston Letters, grammatical punctuation, rhetorical punctuation, punctus, virgule


The late Middle Ages saw a proliferation in the number of marks of punctuation as a result
of the development of cursive hands and scripts. While the punctus had been the principal
mark used in the Anglo-Saxon period, other marks like the paragraphus, the virgule, the
perioslash and the hyphen were progressively incorporated into the repertoire of punctuation.
The inventory of marks and their functions settled over time, but it was not until the
seventeenth century when we find the early symptoms of normalization (Calle-Martín forthcoming).
Even though some recent studies have focused on the analysis of the punctuation
system deployed in different text types–literary, scientific and legal material in particular–,
letters have, however, not been the focus of these studies. This paper therefore analyses what
marks are present in the Paston Letters and what their functions are. Particular attention is
paid to the punctus and the virgule as marks with overlapping uses in the period.


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How to Cite
Calle-Martín, Javier, and Jacob Thaisen. 2023. “General Patterns of Punctuation in the Paston Letters”. Revista Canaria De Estudios Ingleses, no. 87 (November), 167-85.