The curly bracket is here to stay... {Brace yourself}



I've been seeing lots of brackets these days. To be precise, curly ones like {these} which are also known as curly braces. And I can't decide: are they a little mis-used and maybe a tad pretentious? Or, are they fresh, fun and whimsical?

I'm probably reading too much into this micro trend, but I can't help wondering: what are you trying to say if you surround your initials, an invitation, or some particular words with curly braces? Are they simply a fancy substitution for parenthesis? A decorative embellisment? Or, to a cunning grammarian, do they mean something highly specific?

I like to consider myself gramatically well imformed, but the only place I've ever used curly brackets is in anxiety-inducing mathematical equations. Yet, curly brackets are a part of a standard keyboard, so they must have some importance. Feeling I might be missing something, I decided to do some research. When I struck out in Strunk and White, I turned to the internet and found this helpful post on Grammar Girl. (I had never encountered Grammar Girl before but it looks like great fun for anyone with a case of general grammar grumpiness).

According to Grammar Girl, the curly brace serves no gramatical function whatsoever, and exists primarily for mathemathics. In the exponent-free world, I guess that makes curly braces fair game for anyone wishing to add little whimsy to her written communication. In the age of the emoticon, the curly brace seems quaint and whimisical indeed.


* image from Mark and Graham

4 comments:

Lamia said...

Things you did not know but should...thank you for enlightening us on this!!! Otherwise, I would always wonder....

EHP said...

Thanks, Lamia, I guess this qualifies as something we should all know, in a which-fork-to-use kind of way.

Elizabeth H. said...

I love Grammar Girl!

Kate said...

I think they are stupid.

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