Don't punctuate

Aleix Ruiz-Falqués wrote an interesting blog post about Pāli romanization called "Don’t punctuate":

I write this post because I find some problems with certain conventions in Pāli transliteration, and I think there should be at least the possibility of publishing Pāli texts following the traditional way of editing from manuscripts. What I will say here is the point of view of a simple student, a regular "user" of Pāli editions. I will first give a list of the conventions I would change, and afterwards I’ll give some reasons [...]

In the comments, Elisa Freschi points to her own post about Sanskrit punctuation and related matters. One of her commenters points out that it's not unusual to see question marks and the like in Indian editions, and she goes further into her motivation:

Much depends on what you are aiming at. If —as you seem to imply— your purpose is communicating in a modern world, question marks etc. (until emoticons) might be useful. Who has the time to read a sentence more than once? It is thus much easier to identify immediately questions and exclamations.

By contrast, the situation is quite different in case you are editing a classical text. This is probably enough obscure to demand time and energy from its readers. In these cases I would recommend avoinding redundancy (no question marks, then, if the sentence starts anyway with kiṃ or the like). This is also due to the fact that every edition is tentative and I would like to intrude as less as possible in the text, in order for future readers to be aware of other possible readings of the text.

I don't have the credentials to take sides in an argument about Indic languages, but the older I get, the more I prefer facsimiles to any kind of printed edition. So much information is lost in the transition to contemporary print — in Japanese, of course, with all that cursive and hentaigana going on, but in post-Gutenberg English too: spelling, punctuation, even layout. You'd think there could be a happy medium of modern book design with unchanged premodern content, but this is surprisingly rare. Even books that come very close don't dare to go all the way; for example, this is in the introduction of Brian Cummings' The Book of Common Prayer: The Texts of 1549, 1559, and 1662:

While this is an original-spelling edition, it has been moderately modernized. The use of i/j and u/v has been regularized; initial and medial "long s" are modernized; abbreviations ("mm", "nn", etc.) and some numerals (".i.") have been silently filled out, as have contractions such as "the" for "ye" and "which" for "wch". [...] I have also occasionally amended the orthography where modern usage would create obvious confusion; wherever possible I have again followed a contemporary text. Examples of this are the use of "the" for "thee" in Grafton's 1599; and the practice of eliding the initial definite article, common in 1549 and frequent in 1559 (e.g. "thende" = "the ende"; "thepiphanie" = "the epiphanie", etc.).

I don't mean to pick on Cummings, exactly; the book is at least 95% what I want. Most of the spelling and capitalization in the book is left alone, and it even uses blackletter for headings! But, you know, that's exactly why it's so weird that it doesn't go all the way. Maybe long s would be asking too much for technical reasons, but surely "thepiphanie" could have been left alone. I think the overlap between people who would buy a book whose subtitle is The Texts of 1549, 1559, and 1663 and people who are interested in quirks of historical orthography is much larger than anyone involved in this project realized.

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