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An Ode to the Proper Use of the Semicolon

In raves on February 18, 2008 at 9:24 pm

I don’t know about you but I cannot recall the last time I have used a semicolon in my writing.

If and when I did use that venerable but often abused punctuation mark, I am convinced I must have employed it inappropriately.

I am grateful therefore for this timely article in the New York Times.

Celebrating the Semicolon in a Most Unlikely Location – New York Times

In the age of short text messages and punchy micro-blog entries, the semicolon seems to be in danger of extinction.

The diminishing use of that punctuation mark,which, links yet separates closely related ideas may well signify larger changes in our culture. Addicted to speed, we constantly accelerate and have little patience to pause to contemplate. We eschew the complexity of multi-part arguments in favor of the instant gratification of simplistic sound bytes.

Kudos once again to the NYT. Few other papers can do what it has done with this essay:make its reader reflect upon the social and cultural milieu in which proper language use finds its true significance.

I especially love this quote by Kurt Vonnegut in the article: “When Hemingway killed himself he put a period at the end of his life. Old age is more like a semicolon.”


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