Friday, June 27, 2008

Paul Collins on the semicolon

Perusing telegraph manuals reveals that Morse code is to the semicolon what weedkiller is to the dandelion. Punctuation was charged at the same rate as words, and their high price — trans-Atlantic cables originally cost a still-shocking $5 per word — meant that short, punchy lines with minimal punctuation were necessary among businessmen and journalists.
Read the rest:

Has Modern Life Killed the Semicolon? (Slate)

Related posts
France debates le point-virgule
A semicolon in the news

comments: 2

Thom said...

Interesting article. I tend to use a lot of semicolons, to the point where Poe would probably be dismayed by my writing style.

Perhaps Sarkozy should adopt the semicolon as a project; then again, given his record, I shudder to think of the havoc he could wreak on la langue de Molière.

Michael Leddy said...

I was semicolon-crazy in my grad student days, with "sentences" running a third of a page or so, until a thoughtful professor staged an intervention in the margin. : )