This week’s word of the day is aglet.
What a lovely little word it is too. It is the name of the plastic tube fixed round each end of a shoelace. It’s a little detail that makes it easier for you to thread the lace and helps your lace last longer. When all is in order with your aglet, you don’t even notice that it’s there (which is probably why no-one knows its name). But if the aglet is damaged, or (shudder) there’s no aglet at all, you instinctively know that the shoe is not quite right. Perhaps it’s the fraying on the end of the lace that jars visually. Or if the lace has unravelled further, it may look unnecessarily scruffy. Either way, your slight sense of unease lets you know you’d better keep checking your double knot to make sure it really is secure.
I think that punctuation can be like the aglet to the text’s thread; the small (ideally unnoticed) details that help the thread go where it needs to, and holds it all together. Misplaced or missing punctuation can make you feel uneasy and unsure of the meaning the writer intended. So you have to keep looking back over what you have just read to check you have understood it correctly.
Which is why, in the Dept. of Words, we are so particular about our punctuation; because small details, like aglets, really matter.