You lovers of language will enjoy this piece by neo-neocon who is celebrating the semicolon:
The NY Times salutes a subway notice demonstrating the proper use of the semicolon. Apparently it’s all too rare a sight nowadays; this bit of punctuation is generally considered an archaic has-been.
She’s referencing this NY Times article about a subway ad featuring the noble semi:
Semicolons are supposed to be introduced into the curriculum of the New York City public schools in the third grade. That is where Mr. Neches, the 55-year-old New York City Transit marketing manager, learned them, before graduating from Tilden High School and Brooklyn College, where he majored in English and later received a master’s degree in creative writing.
But, whatever one’s personal feelings about semicolons, some people don’t use them because they never learned how.
In fact, when Mr. Neches was informed by a supervisor that a reporter was inquiring about who was responsible for the semicolon, he was concerned.
“I thought at first somebody was complaining,” he said.
I got turned on to the semicolon while reading John Irving’s The World According to Garp, wherein Ellen James writes a note to Garp – something like, “I remember [the event]; I remember it the way I remember my tongue,” and Garp, appreciating the sentiment, also takes a moment to appreciate Ellen’s use of “the good old semicolon.”
I thought, hmmmm…semicolon…now, why haven’t I been using that thing? My Catholic elementary school had clearly covered it, but I knew I’d been neglecting to punch it up. Once started, I could not stop; it is such a perfectly placed breath-for-emphasis between connected thoughts.
Example: [Rush] came back from break with another “song parody” about his McCain obsession and I turned it off, because he has nothing new to say, and he’s not going to give me a positive reason to vote for Romney; this speaks volumes to me.
I join neo-neocon in appreciation of the semicolon, and I urge its increased usage! Between love and madness lies obsession; between commas and colons lie semicolons.
Perhaps our intentional use of the darling thing will help keep the synapses firing a bit longer and prevent us from sounding like Noam Chomsky in the Times article, who – asked to opine on the subject of semi’s – remarked (or, as the Times wrote it, “sniffed,”) “I suppose Bush would claim it’s the effect of No Child Left Behind.”
That remark, by the way, would be called a perfect non sequitur. Ask a man about the musty dust of elevated punctuation and he – fried by a strain of Bush Derangement Syndrome that creates U-turns out of cogent thought – cannot follow; all he can do is double-back.
The good old semicolon; long may it give pause.
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