Thursday, February 21, 2008

Punctuation




You Are a Colon



You are very orderly and fact driven.

You aren't concerned much with theories or dreams... only what's true or untrue.



You are brilliant and incredibly learned. Anything you know is well researched.

You like to make lists and sort through things step by step. You aren't subject to whim or emotions.



Your friends see you as a constant source of knowledge and advice.

(But they are a little sick of you being right all of the time!)



You excel in: Leadership positions



You get along best with: The Semi-Colon



I was pretty surprised with the results of the above quiz; I thought I'd be a semicolon. If you've read this blog for very long chances are you've noticed my tendency to use the semicolon far too frequently; I sometimes send it in to do the job that only a colon should do, and other times I use it when a comma might suffice.

Fortunately, there is still a place for semicolons in the world. But it's possible that things might change. From the article:

Semicolon sightings in the city are unusual, period, much less in exhortations drafted by committees of civil servants. In literature and journalism, not to mention in advertising, the semicolon has been largely jettisoned as a pretentious anachronism.

Americans, in particular, prefer shorter sentences without, as style books advise, that distinct division between statements that are closely related but require a separation more prolonged than a conjunction and more emphatic than a comma.

I have to admit it; my fondness for semicolons, even when I use them in ways that might not be correct, comes from my admiration for those writers of the eighteenth and nineteenth century who regularly wrote sentences which could occupy the greater part of the page, and sometimes even spill over for a paragraph or two at the beginning of the next. There is a subtle art in creating such super-sentences, such flowing script of grandly eloquent prose that, even if the notion therefore expressed is mundane, yet conveys to the reader a sense of import and sweeps them along in the lovely curves of well-expressed thought.

But such writing has been out of fashion for some time now. It is seen as pretentious, pedantic. Quick, snappy sentences are the vogue. Say what you mean, quickly and without adornment. Sound bites rule.

So where a writer of the past would pen such words as, "The golden rays of the slowly-rising sun filtered through the leaves of the magnolia tree outside my window; these green-gold harbingers of rosy-fingered Dawn pierced gently through the soft summer curtains which hung about the posts of my bed and, stroking my cheek until I wakened to their presence, then fled shyly from me as I languorously threw back the soft clean sheets and emerged to a new day," the writer of today writes, "It was morning. I got up."

Yes, the clarity is improved; but the poetry suffers somewhat from so thorough an abandonment of the prose styles of the past.

Perhaps the pendulum will begin swinging back in the direction of more slow, subtle writing. If it does, whatever the quiz above says, I'll be ready; I even have enough semicolons to share.

7 comments:

Patrick Archbold said...

"You are a colon"

Usually people call me something just slightly lower than the colon. ;-)

Red Cardigan said...

Patrick, :)

I did think about that when I took the little quiz. But if I'm going to post one of these things, I'm going to be strictly honest about the results, however--er--potentially unflattering they might be!

The truly amazing thing is that a writer in New York actually knew the correct use for a semicolon...

Tausign said...

I was dubbed a 'question mark'; but I question the results.

I do favor the semicolon as a longer pause than a comma; a refreshing way to continue essential key thoughts; and a gentle way to hold the reader on the edge: as opposed to the stark and abrupt change forced upon us by a colon.

My other favorite punctuation for giving pause is the improperly used ellipsis...don't you agree...?

Blogger said...

Thank you for blogging :) Keep up the good work :) God Bless you :)

freddy said...

"(But they are a little sick of you being right all of the time!)"


HAH! ;)

Red Cardigan said...

Yeah, freddy, I know; pretty darned ridiculous! :)

molly said...

I am a semi colon Red, I am delighted that we get along so well.

Molly
heavennotharvard