Modern punctuation, designed to
clarify syntactic structures rather
than to indicate breathings, is
largely a Renaissance invention,
developing during the first
generations of the printing press, and
codified in the eighteenth century
(about the same time that
capitalization and spelling became
fixed in more or less their current
Among the earliest works showing
"modern" punctuation is Francis
Bacon's Essays. An interesting early
discussion of the nature of modern
punctuation can be found in Ben
Jonson's English Grammar (composed ca.
1617, printed posthumously in 1640).
Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century
punctuation practice varies
considerably, but tends to be "heavy";
current "light" punctuation is largely
the invention of H. G. and F. G.
Fowler, The King's English.