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RULES OF THE SEMICOLON, please

 
 
Reply Tue 29 Jan, 2013 09:11 am
The use of semicolons was a topic of discussion this AM while we were talking about "thought density' and Alzheiners
Forget about all that, Im interested in rules of use of semicolons from the editors and those who really give a ****.
 
Frank Apisa
 
  2  
Reply Tue 29 Jan, 2013 09:17 am
@farmerman,
JTT will be right here to help you, FM.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jan, 2013 09:18 am
My understanding is that semicolons are used to separate clause, whether independent or dependent, which combine to form or clarify the idea embodied in a single sentence.

Jason began to back away; because he was not a fighter, he did not want to get involved. (Independent clause, dependent clause)

Marie was very displeased with her sister; she always felt her sister had never really supported her. (Two independent clauses)
Roberta
 
  4  
Reply Tue 29 Jan, 2013 09:49 am
From 2003:

http://able2know.org/topic/11603-1
tycoon
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jan, 2013 09:52 am
There is only one rule in regard to semicolons. Don't. Say what needs to be said and then put a period at the end. Read the following quote from a blog. Learn from it.

Ben McIntyre, writing in the Times of London ... added to the collection of semicolon snubbers: Kurt Vonnegut called the marks “transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing.” Hemingway and Chandler and Stephen King, said McIntyre, “wouldn’t be seen dead in a ditch with a semi-colon (though Truman Capote might). Real men, goes the unwritten rule of American punctuation, don’t use semi-colons.”



Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jan, 2013 09:59 am
@Roberta,
I knew that last rule about seriation, but had forgotten it.
0 Replies
 
Roberta
 
  2  
Reply Tue 29 Jan, 2013 10:08 am
@Roberta,
BTW, FM, Not sure I give a ****--at least not a full one. Maybe just a little poop.

I reread what I wrote ten years ago. The essentials are there.
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Tue 29 Jan, 2013 11:41 am
@Roberta,
Thank you. Ive been perusing the written word of several authors,each of whom is a friend of the comma and semi colon. I was then pondering the rules that govern usages of both and was surprised at how several of them seem to use semi colons just for the hell of it;each is a pretty good writer IMHO.
My style manuals seem to ignore semicolons and colons. (

This whole thing started out as a discussion , as I said before, thought density; many whose "thought density" had changed severaly in a short few years show signs of EOD (early onset dementia). Apparently speech and written communication begins to lose complexity as the dementia sets in. (I always thought it was that everyone tends toward more concise writing,but I guess Im wrong.
There was a story on NPR about following several nuns whod been in coistered orders for years;each nun fond of writing to friends and family as mental exercise.In a ratio of about One nun out of three ,whose "density' decreased, (ie slipping away from multi clausal sentences and becoming more like ELmore LEonard in style), became a sufferer of Alzheimers by their early 60's .
Thats when the interest in the punctuation hit us at our breakfast table.
My wife is one of the "equal weighted clauses" girls;she pisses me off with her constant reviewing of anything I write -even after my tech assistant has gone over it well. Then she and I get into these "Discussions" about what a clod I am in punctuation ;to which I usually end up extending a wish unto her; (insert epithet here)
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jan, 2013 11:43 am
@Setanta,
Quote:
Jason began to back away; because he was not a fighter, he did not want to get involved. (Independent clause, dependent clause)
Actually, …….., doesn't it separate also also two independent clauses

Help, somebody who knows this stuff better than I
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jan, 2013 11:45 am
@Setanta,
yeh, that was the rule I grew up with, but Ive also seen the way its used in compiling lists,to which I always thought required an item of "Seriation" together with a description of each item in the list.
APPARENTLY NOT


I do feel more enlightened though
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jan, 2013 11:48 am
@Frank Apisa,
HA!, See Frank, the diff between u and I is that I dont even see the person to whom you refer,UNLESS someone like you brings it up.

That poster has been dead to me for lo these many months.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Tue 29 Jan, 2013 11:53 am
@tycoon,
not to ignore you but there are some really good authors out there that embrace the semicolon as a TOOL.

I can only take Elmore Leonard in tv shows or short chunks. I like more complex thoughts that require some wiggling around.

Not all Post Industrial writing has to come off like a bus ticket.

Read THE BUDDHA IN THE ATTIC
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jan, 2013 12:01 pm
Rules of punctuation are pretty flexible; for example, many people have been reducing the number of commas they use, and some have almost abandoned the comma. Because of my reading disability, punctuation is crucially important to me, because i rely on context for clues to the errors i make (i'm dyslexic). I don't care if someone uses semicolons or not, but if they don't and they aren't using commas either, i'll probably soon give up reading them as not worth the trouble. One author i've been reading lately uses colons all time, and in most cases i'd say what he wanted was a semicolon. I've gotten used to it.

Technical writing is very much different from fiction. There are times when the specific use of specific punctuation is the best remedy for obscurity.
0 Replies
 
nextone
 
  2  
Reply Tue 29 Jan, 2013 12:05 pm
@farmerman,
What Roberta said looks right. I've always thought of the semicolon as weaker than a period and may be used to separate closely related independent clauses. It's kind of twitchy/finicky. Not to over think things, use a period. I was schooled to use the semicolon before the neverthelesses and howevers beginning clauses. Then it's automatic; otherwise, not used much.
dalehileman
 
  -3  
Reply Tue 29 Jan, 2013 12:17 pm
@nextone,
Quote:
I've always thought of the semicolon as weaker than a period
Yes, Next, or stronger than a comma

Not sure whether anybody above had mentioned it, but the semi is useful separating items of a listing that contain commas

Abnormal growths; Big, fat stomachs; long, smelly penises; other notable features

Quote:
I was schooled to use the semicolon before the neverthelesses and howevers beginning clauses
That is, as in the "Jason" example above. I'm not sure what you call it; though it contains an introductory clause it's a unit that can stand by itself, it can "stand alone," ending as it does in the independent clause
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jan, 2013 04:17 pm
@dalehileman,
Roberta covered that already.
JTT
 
  -1  
Reply Tue 29 Jan, 2013 07:34 pm
@Frank Apisa,
As you can well see, Frank, rules for punctuation, an artificial part of language are a hodgepodge of opinion. I don't waste my time with them.

Farmerman is an intellectual coward.

0 Replies
 
contrex
 
  2  
Reply Wed 30 Jan, 2013 01:55 am
I picked up my paper copy of "The Guardian Style Guide" (online at http://www.guardian.co.uk/styleguide) and reminded myself of its guidance, which advises more or less what I try to do:

Used correctly (which occasionally we do), the semicolon is a very elegant compromise between a full stop [period] (too much) and a comma (not enough). This sentence, from a column by David McKie, illustrates beautifully how it's done: "Some reporters were brilliant; others were less so."

The late Beryl Bainbridge said in the Guardian: "Not many people use it much any more, do they? Should it be used more? I think so, yes. A semicolon is a partial pause, a different way of pausing, without using a full stop. I use it all the time" and George Bernard Shaw told TE Lawrence that not using semicolons was "a symptom of mental defectiveness, probably induced by camp life".

Orwell, on the other hand, thought they were unnecessary and Kurt Vonnegut advised: "Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites, standing for absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college."
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jan, 2013 06:12 am
@contrex,
an example of several who do give a ****.
JTT
 
  0  
Reply Wed 30 Jan, 2013 06:18 am
@farmerman,
Quote:
an example of several who do give a ****.


It's all just silly pretense, Farmer, something that certainly isn't beyond you - witness this thread.

There are many competent writers in English who have never received the benefit of all this "great" instruction.

But, you, the great open minded academic, the guy who loves to trumpet that he's willing to hear all sides, will never hear this, unless you peek, as you often have.
0 Replies
 
 

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