Monday, October 27, 2008

semicolon?

After following the link to this from Catriona's post I have now spent a good hour or so at work browsing through the other punctuation blogs. Is this the most productive use of my time? Well, arguably not I suppose. But, I do teach writing and literacy in some form so it could also be argued that such blogging around is absolutely ESSENTIAL to my working day.

My favourite is the one on apostrophes because we have had an email apostrophe incident already today at work which really bugged me. But what I really need is a blog on the semicolon. However, I don't think I'm the one to write it as they are my absolute punctuation downfall. I mean could there have been one between those previous two sentences? I'm never sure......If in doubt, leave it out.

5 comments:

Catriona said...

Well, Kurt Vonnegut wrote somewhere (I think in one of the essays in The Man Without A Country, but I'd have to check) that all using a semi-colon shows is that you've been to college.

I like them myself--I can't imagine how I could divide list items that have internal punctuation without semi-colons. But I can't stop my students over-using them: semi-colons and em-dashes. It's like they've had an epiphany and they use them everywhere.

(For the record, I don't think you need one between those two sentences, not when you've already got a conjunctive adverb.)

Wendy said...

I like that Vonnegut comment!
Glad you think i don't need one there!

(now I think I'm over-using the exclamation mark)

Catriona said...

I adore Vonnegut; I always hold him up to my students as perhaps the best writer at the sentence level that I've ever come across. Just flawless and so deceptively simple.

(And I don't think it qualifies as over-using an exclamation mark as long as you're only using one at a time. It's when you have two or more that you have to worry.)

Wendy said...

I haven't read a lot of vonnegut...in fact I think only one that i had to read as part of a lit subject and now I can't remember what it was called....probably the most well known one? what would that be? slaughterhouse five? is that even one of his books.
(displaying vast "vonnegut ignorance" here)

I'm very conscious of punctuation this week now.....!

Catriona said...

Slaughterhouse 5 is his best-known work, yep. It's the one about the bombing of Dresden, although it's filtered through protagonist Billy Pilgrim, who has come unstuck in time, and his experiences with the Tralfalmadorians.

I loved it, but I know a lot of people don't like him or can't sympathise with his views.

(It's odd: most of the authors I picked up in my mid to late teens have slipped away: I don't read Tom Robbins any more, or Richard Brautigan (although maybe I should read more of his), but I keep reading Vonnegut.)

Unfortunately, punctuation and grammar consciousness is like a disease, and you find yourself saying to lovely but bemused fifteen-year-old shop assistants, "You know, DVDs doesn't have an apostrophe: it's plural, not possessive" or "That really should read 'Eight items or fewer'."

Next stop: angry letters to the editor. Or becoming Gil Mayo.