Friday, May 20, 2016

For the Love of a Semicolon

My favorite punctuation mark is the misunderstood semicolon. And I use it even when I text, much to my daughter's exasperation. "You are a punctuation Nazi," she declares. I know. But I'm allowed, I am in my Second Half. Not a period offering a concrete end, not a comma eliciting pause, the semicolon is a beautiful instrument connecting two complete thoughts; each stands alone yet relates to the other. Isn't that lovely?

 Few people know how to use a semicolon correctly, and I would venture to say that's because it cannot really be taught -- and few care to learn. Something about using a semicolon is intuitive, beyond grammatical rules. The semicolon connotes a certain rhythm, almost like a syncopation. It has a personality, a place in literature, and looks like Japanese calligraphy.

But I'll stop there; few share my love for the semicolon and have probably not read this far. Still, I will continue to employ the semicolon to express what a period, comma and colon cannot. I will continue to revere its unique place in punctuation. I will use it in texts, emails and letters (I still write letters), and I will defend its character in a written world that has become largely insensitive to the beauty of language for beautiful language's sake.

Respect the semicolon; it is a fading symbol of how we connect.

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