Friday, December 5, 2008

The semi-colon

We were at a friend's house for dinner, and got debating punctuation...this is what you happens when enough multi-lingual people, and people who are studying languages get together. (I am not in the multi-lingual group by the way)

Anywhoo....

The man and I got debating. The semi-colon is a non-obligatory bit of punctuation, and has become a bit of an individual thing. Now me? I like them, a lot...as regular readers may have noticed. The man? Not so much. Indeed he actively dislikes them outside of technical writing, where they presumably hold a specific role.

In the interest of continued nerdy punctuation discussion, I have posted a poll over there on the right to find out how you feel about the humble, but I think useful, semi-colon.

I never even used one in this whole post; poor things. Whoops! There's one now.

7 comments:

Jason, as himself said...

I think they're key to good writing!

oreneta said...

Me too!

Anonymous said...

As a translator and editor I am convinced that it totally depends on the language and culture involved.
Even after x reforms, the Germans are still struggling with the question like crazy, be it fiction or not.
Correct use of semi-colon is a way to terrorize students and drive the fear of German exams in them so deeply that they never recover.
NOW, PRAISE BE - PUNCTUATION has been reduced to an ABSOLUTE MINIMUM in American English and the semi-colon appears only in technical, non-fiction, writing.
Not quite as extreme in British English and in post Commonwealth countries, but definitely getting there.
I never use it.
These days, few people know how to use it correctly or effectively.GM

mmichele said...

I love semi-colons. Here's a semi-colon kindred spirit for you:

http://joannmski.blogspot.com/2008/11/on-writing.html

And I think just because lots of people don't use it properly is no reason to throw it out entirely. A good one, properly placed, is lovely. If it's not in the right spot, well then, edit away.

oreneta said...

GM...I was hoping you'd chime in... I now have to go and look up the strict rules, I think I know, and I know how I like to use them, but....

mmichele, thanks for the link..it looks like a neat blog...I agree, a semi-colon in the perfect spot is a thing of beauty. My daughter is going to think that I am such a profound nerd for writing that sentence...actually I think she would say I was a loser, but whatever....

dawn said...

I love semi-colons and probably use them more than I should, although I think for the most part, I use them properly. I think they add a extra element in writing to give a more varied experience when reading. But that is my opinion and I am no expert. I voted.

oreneta said...

Dawn, glad you voted...I like them too...variety is good.