Not Just Another Grouchy Grammarian

Musings about language, books, grammar, and writing in general

Semicolons are Sexy

A friend on LiveJournal pointed me to this wonderful little blog post by Oliver Miller.  Since I’ve always been rather fond of semicolons, I figured that I should pass this one on to you guys.  After all, we grammarians are among the last people standing who don’t want to retire the semicolon.

I do really lament the fact that people no longer seem to understand how to use semicolons. Then again, I lament that people no longer understand how to use commas, and ellipses.  That’s just h0w I am.  I actually like the grammar I grew up with.

When I grew up, we had to diagram sentences. For those of you who are young, that means taking a sentence and sorting it into parts. It was like sorting the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle into the proper order, and I considered it fun and a challenge.

Diagramming a Sentence Courtesy of Wikihow.

Diagramming a Sentence
Courtesy of Wikihow.

These days, they don’t teach that anymore, and I am not thrilled about it.  Yes, it could be tedious; yes, it took time to master.  However, it also left me with a much better understanding of the language. It helped me understand the complex sentences that the writers we studied used.  It gave me an entry point for my love of language and the written word.  I don’t know what it is that has replaced it in today’s educational faddism, but I mourn its passing.  It made language much richer for me, because it taught me something about the part each word in a sentence played.

Sigh. I know it’s old-fashioned, and that you all are more used to me looking t the way language evolves and noting that it does happen. I know that language evolves.  I just wish we, as a society, still cared as much about how our language works as we do about who a celebrity was dating.

Okay, a semicolon might not be as sexy as (insert your favorite celebrity here), but they still make complex sentences more comprehensible.

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