Dear Semicolon

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Dear Semicolon,

         I wish I knew you better. Your mysteriousness was intriguing at first, but now it is just frustrating. If things do not change, if I cannot make sense of your touch and go ways, I am going to have to say goodbye - forever.

         Conditionally yours,


The semicolon has been omitted entirely; it has been used superfluously. Kurt Vonnegut hated it; Virginia Woolf adored it. And in the last two sentences, I think I've technically used it properly. The problem is using a semicolon is more of a stylistic decision than a grammatical one. It is also one form of punctuation that is entirely unnecessary. According to Noah Lukeman, in A Dash of Style, which I am pulling my information from, it is a punctuation best suited for the creative writer. But how is a writer to decide when to embrace the semicolon?

Like the comma, its uses are up for debate. The semicolon has been called the bridge between the comma and the period and has several functions in writing. Its modern usage was established by Italian painter and publisher Aldus Manutius.  Lukeman explains the semicolon as a luxury that elevates from the utilitarian, and that your use of it can reveal a lot about you. Over-users, for instance, are likely to be more prose than plot oriented.

In short, the semicolon can slow the pace of your writing and give it an artistic edge. But one has to be careful to use it rightly, else she looks amateur.  

Here are a couple writers' views on the semicolon:

Sometimes you get a glimpse of a semicolon coming, a few lines farther on, and it is like climbing a steep path through woods and seeing a wooden bench just at a bend in the road ahead, a place where you can expect to sit for a moment, catching your breath. - Lewis Thomas

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. - Kurt Vonnegut

What is your relationship to the semicolon?




PatrickSchober said:

Haha, I love this! And I appreciate your creative opener. The semicolon is quite the enigma.
Thanks for the helpful tags in here.
May I ask why the semicolon for a blog topic?

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