Recently there has been an uptick in talk about semicolons. Witness:
- Hooray for the ;
- I say! A subterranean semicolon!
- FANBOYS and the Semicolon
- Colbert on punctuation
- How to Use Punctuation Correctly
- Punctuation lives
- The Elements of Spam
What does this signify? I’m not sure. Could it be another sign of the trend to the literate class becoming a cultural elite, eager to differentiate itself from the hoi polloi?
Well, maybe that’s reading too much into what might just be a random flare-up of semi-colonitis. In any case, I like this exchange from the Colbert link above.
- Tulugaq: Kurt Vonnegut’s take on it was a little less warlike and more of a mandate: “Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.” Me, I like the poor semicolon and the colon alike, so I guess I just have to be a conscientious objector. Sorry, Steve Colbert.
- The Ridger, FCD: How can a hermaphrodite be a transvestite? Do they dress like asexuals?
For anyone with market aspirations in today’s publishing climate, Vonnegut’s advice remains sound. But what would Flaubert be like without the semicolon as the hinge on which his crafty sentences swing?
Shown: Arabic semicolon from brill.nl.