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Semi-colon! Semi-colon! Semi-colon!

Thursday 14 May 2009

It’s a calendar month since i asked you lot about the semi-colon, and seven – yes, a magic seven! – of you voted. Statistically valid? Should i let the DCSF (what used to be the DfES) know what we think?

The original polls - world-changing stuff. Potentially.

The original polls - world-changing stuff. Potentially.

First you told me whether to preserve the semi-colon. Most want to, thank goodness. Of course i am conscious that the subset of blogreaders responding to this question is likely to overlap with the subset of blogreaders who care about* punctuation. Pertinently, everyone who responded knew what the semi-colon was.

* Care about, note, not obsess about. We’re not pedants, any of us.

I’m also glad, though slightly less glad, that semi-colon narrowly won over semicolon. Haven’t determined whether that’s a transatlantic difference

Anyway, i was relieved to find all this matters at least as much to someone else. In fact, how much is a little alarming.

Lionel Shriver, who is not only female but an Orange Prize winner, cares deeply, judging by this Standpoint article, which is ostensibly about the em-dash but very obviously, to anyone skilled at reading between the lines, about the semi-colon. (Which she doesn’t hyphenate, but she’s American.)

More than scary – alarming, even – is the comment thread. There are those out there who care even more profoundly th

an Lionel Shriver.

Gosh.

And i haven’t even used a semi-colon in this post. (And some of us don’t mind about em-dashes.)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Friday 15 May 2009 6.50 am

    I used to mind about em-dashes. Then I did a whole semester of ‘editing’ at Uni and it cured me for good! I could never be an editor. I can do attention to detail, I just don’t CARE.

    And my love for semi-colons is tainted by my hatred of having to teach a bunch of fourteen year olds how to use them. My ‘just don’t CARE’ doesn’t even scratch the surface of theirs!

    • Friday 15 May 2009 11.17 am

      Both of those sentiments i can understand!

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