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At different times I see "full stop" used online. Does this just mean a period, or is it something more or less? I would assume it refers to a period specifically at the end of a sentence, but does it mean more than that?

In the King James Version of the Bible, the colon is often used as what appears to be a "double stop". It seems to break apart groups of sentences. Other times it seems to be used as the period version of a semi-colon, almost connecting the two sentences. How is it actually used? Is there such a thing as a "Double Stop" or is it just called a colon? I know colons are supposed to be only used for lists, but are there other ways they can be used as well?

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Are you able to give us an example from the King James version of the use of the colon that you're talking about? –  JAM Aug 7 '12 at 16:57
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I'm not sure I can now (1300), probably this evening. –  Arlen Beiler Aug 7 '12 at 16:58
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Also, if "double stop" is your own term (as I think it is?) you might want to put it in quotation marks. –  JAM Aug 7 '12 at 16:58
    
FYI, a double stop is a technique used in playing string or mallet instruments. –  Mark Beadles Aug 7 '12 at 17:15
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I think the real "double stop" in English is a paragraph break. –  Jay Aug 7 '12 at 20:58
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7 Answers

There is a specialist, conventional use of the colon in the Bible (not just KJV) in rendering the psalms into English. Here the colon separates the two halves of the Hebrew verse:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures : he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul : he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil : for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies : thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life : and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Normally it's written with a space on both sides, to make clear that it's a division rather than a normal colon.

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+1 I did not know that. –  JAM Aug 9 '12 at 23:40
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up vote 4 down vote accepted

According to Wikipedia, "A full stop ( . ) (British, New Zealand and Australian English) or period (American English and Canadian English) is the punctuation mark commonly placed at the end of sentences."

"Full stop" and "period" are two names for the same thing, however it is used.


The colon is used to indicate that what follows it is an explanation or elaboration of what precedes it. That is, having introduced some topic in more general terms, you can use a colon and go on to explain that same topic in more specific terms. -- Larry Trask’s ‘Guide to Punctuation’.

Colons and semicolons are used to connect complete sentences, a colon to connect a specific sentence to a general sentence preceding it, and a semicolon otherwise. A period/full stop would work just as well as a semicolon, but a semicolon is normally used when the sentences are closely related. If they were connected with a conjunction you would use a comma.

Therefore, no: a colon is not a double stop. Probably the closest thing to a double stop would be a paragraph mark.


Now for a bit of history:

The full stop symbol derives from Aristophanes of Byzantium who invented the system of punctuation where the height of placement of a dot on the line determined its meaning. The high dot (˙) was called a "periodos" and indicated a finished thought or sentence, the middle dot (·) was called a "kolon" and indicated part of a complete thought, while the low dot (.) was called a "telia" and also indicated part of a complete thought. -- Wikipedia - Full Stop

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Does this just mean a period, or is it something more or less?

Full stop is another term, chiefly used in British English to mean period. It is the punctuation used at the end of a sentence, or an abbreviation.

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The colon is used to indicate that what follows it is an explanation or elaboration of what precedes it. That is, having introduced some topic in more general terms, you can use a colon and go on to explain that same topic in more specific terms.

from Larry Trask’s ‘Guide to Punctuation’.

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Full stop is a phrase used in US English, mostly spoken rather than written, to mean period, but with emphasis.

While I have no support for this view, I always had the impression that the phrase derived metaphorically from driving instructions indicating that, when one came to certain intersections (such as those with a STOP sign), you engaged in a full stop, rather than just slowing to check for traffic (as you would with a YIELD sign or an unregulated intersection).

I have never heard or seen the term double stop in US usage.

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I think you’ll find that Americans use double stops all the time. :) –  tchrist Aug 7 '12 at 17:28
    
@tchrist - following ELU and DIY must not leave me enough time for music. Just a selective philistine I guess. –  bib Aug 7 '12 at 17:33
    
"Full stop" predates automobiles by quite a bit: e.g. "1665 R. Hooke Micrographia 3, A point commonly so call'd, that is, the mark of a full stop, or period." –  Mark Beadles Aug 7 '12 at 17:39
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"I know colons are supposed to be only used for lists, but are there other ways they can be used as well?" Not really. Colons are also used -- and probably more commonly used -- to connect two independent clauses when the second clause is a follow on or elaboration of the first clause. For example:

Bob was thinker: He was always contemplating some new idea.

It would be equally grammatically correct to use a period or a semi-colon there. But the colon signals to the reader that this is not a separate thought, but a follow-on to the first thought.

It would be logically wrong to use a colon to connect clauses with no such relationship. Like:

WRONG:

Bob was tall: He had no hair.

The colon indicates that having no hair is somehow closely related to being tall, which doesn't make much sense. (Well, I sometimes tell people that I'm not bald: I'm just too tall for my hair.)

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"Full stop" in common usage (when not talking about language or typography) is a somewhat clumsy emphasis indicating finality, as though someone is trying to have the final say in a matter. It's also often used on its own to cement finality, without supporting logic.

Whether full or semi-colons or other punctuation, these are typographical conventions. Various conventions and current usages exist. A semi-colon, en-dash, or em-dash can be used to include briefly an associated idea mid-sentence.

NY Times has codified the conventions for use in the U.S. Colon is preferred to double stop. The double stop or double period usually refers to enumeration between two numerals, e.g. the, days 4..17 this month. This is different than days 4-17 which is a non-discrete, continuous range.

I have heard on rare occasions people refer to the colon this way. These same people that call quotes talking marks. Nothing wrong with that terminology outside typography.

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