The Period

The period is a roguish being in the world of punctuation.

It lived with pirates! Oh my goodness. The period has strutted all around ship decks, sail compartments, and flag rooms - not that it only strutted. It’s seen ferocious battles against Redcoats, Bearded Redcoats, Antipirates, and other totally fearsome crews. Buccaneering? Check. Swashbuckling? Double Check. Multi-Cutlassing? Multi-Check.

Contrary to popular belief, however, the period did not get its name from some warped version of the word “pirate”, nor from “parrot”. These lies were started by vicious panthers, and don’t you dare spread them.

The period was originally part of the entity known as the ellipsis, but then it got all restless and broke away to join up with the nice seafaring folks that were passing by, making the other part of the ellipsis so angry. People started calling this newly isolated (and seafaring) dot a “period” after coming up with some analogy where the ellipsis represented eternity. Kind of sloppy analogy work? Maybe. It doesn’t matter now.

The period is also known as a full stop, because it’s now used to fully end sentences, and a dot, because it’s a tiny round thing. These terms should hardly be surprising.

Why is a mark with such a glorious history one of the smallest bits of language? First of all, being small gives it a tremendous radness-to-radius ratio. Mainly, though, the small-yet-potent mark was what the world needed at that exact moment. The time was right for the period to emerge from the ellipsis, to rise above the (grossly miscalculated) ideal dot distribution level, and to trigger a series of events that would grab the world by its pirate-snubbing nose.

This article is part of a series on punctuation. It’s pretty much all made up. Don’t underestimate the prowess of a panther, though. You’ve been warned.