Re: Ban the Semicolon?

Subject: Re: Ban the Semicolon?
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2002 11:21:35 -0800

Kevin Christy wrote:

Andy Rooney wants to see the semicolon banned from the English language.
Makes me wonder... I use it all the time.

Rooney is a humorist (of sorts), but he often has an underlying seriousness. He wouldn't be the first to suggest getting rid of the semicolon. George Orwell went through a period of not using the semicolon, and so have a number of other writers who favor a simple, direct style of communication.

In practice, the semicolon does seem to be falling into disuse, largely because only a handful of us know how to use it properly. It's almost never used in most newspapers, or even in many popular novels. This is a circular effect: there's not much point in using a semicolon if few readers understand exactly what it means, and, the less the semicolon isused, the fewer people understand it.

Personally, I like the semicolon, and regret the loss of meaning that its disuse entails. However, English is a versatile language, so I can get along without it in circumstances where it won't be understood.

Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com

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Ban the Semicolon?: From: Kevin Christy

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