Monday, February 21, 2011

Pity the Pilcrow

Fascinating ancient history of ¶, and writing in general.
Who knew that ¶ started life as the letter 'Κ' for kaput?

Aside: I’m puzzled by the claim that ‘K’ represents kaput or head. As neither an epigrapher nor an etymologist, I would’ve thought the Κ was a Greek kappa, based on surrounding the text; unless it was inserted at a much later time. In which case, it would be the Latin caput for head, wouldn't it? But that's not a K. If, however, it’s a later Teutonic inscription, the word for head would be kopf.


  1. Update: I enquired of the blogger but he didn't know either, merely citing p. 12 of M. B. Parkes, Pause and Effect: Punctuation in the West, UC Press, 1993.

  2. According to this Google Books version of Pause and Effect, such marks were inserted by a scribe (teacher or student) much later.