Let’s Punctuate!

Let’s try our hands at punctuating a text. Below, I have transcribed the first minute or so of Professor Philip Wadler’s lecture, “Propositions as Types.” How would you punctuate the text? You may want to listen to Professor Wadler speak so you catch as many clues as possible to assist you in your punctuation choices.

Transcript of the first 1.21 minutes of the lecture, “Propositions as Types,” by Philip Wadler

Are you ready to learn about the hilarious subject of computability theory an algorithm is a sequence of instructions followed by a computer now you all think of computers as machines but for an awful long time what a computer meant was a person the person who executed the algorithm algorithms go back to Euclid’s Elements in classical Greece and to eponymously Al-Khwarizmi in 9th century Persia but a formal mathematical definition doesn’t appear until the 20th century when you have proposals by Alonzo Church Curt Gödel and Alan Turing all appearing within a year of each other it’s like buses you wait 2000 years for a definition of effective computability and then three come along at once why did this happen

There are many options for punctuating. Your punctuation choices may not look exactly like mine. As you examine my sample punctuation below, compare it with yours and try to explain why you did what you did and why you prefer one option over the other.

Transcript of the first 1.21 minutes of the lecture, “Propositions as Types,” by Philip Wadler

Are you ready to learn about the hilarious subject of computability theory? An algorithm is a sequence of instructions followed by a computer. Now, you all think of computers as machines, but for an awful long time what a computer meant was a person: the person who executed the algorithm. Algorithms go back to Euclid’s Elements in classical Greece and to eponymously Al-Khwarizmi in 9th century Persia. But a formal mathematical definition doesn’t appear until the 20th century, when you have proposals by Alonzo Church, Curt Gödel, and Alan Turing all appearing within a year of each other. It’s like buses. You wait 2000 years for a definition of effective computability, and then three come along at once. Why did this happen?

Let’s look for some particular patterns in order to secure our understanding of some key conventions of punctuation in English. See if you can find examples of the following rules:

  1. Two examples of commas that precede a coordinating conjunction (“but” or “and,” in this case) that separates two independent clauses (complete sentences).
  2. One example of a comma after an introductory word or phrase at the beginning of a sentence.
  3. One example of a comma that sets off an explanatory clause after an independent clause.
  4. An example of commas used to separate items in a list.
  5. A colon used to emphasize a clarification or explanation of what came before.

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