Punctuation's Rhetorical Effects
Many students tend to think of punctuation as governed by a set of rules. This chapter encourages them to conceive of punctuation as a system of conventions, which includes standard expectations of correct usage—certain “rules”—but applies them within a broader rhetorical context. After distinguishing between punctuation and grammar (the two terms are often associated), students are provided with three reading strategies to help them become aware of how punctuation operates in printed texts. The first strategy, explicit reading, adopts Writing Spaces author Mike Bunn’s Reading Like a Writer (RLW) approach, but emphasizes a reading style that is sensory. The second strategy, visual reading, asks students to adopt a “typographical perspective” when reading so that they literally see how punctuation operates. The third one, aural reading, asks them to listen – possibly by reading aloud – to how punctuation conveys an author’s tone of voice, which can help to illustrate context. Palpably experiencing punctuation usage while reading will help students use it with confidence and facility in their own writing.