Friday, August 15, 2008

They are mysteriously connected to pausing.

On Arts and Letters Daily, in the "Nota Bene" section, there was a link to this awesome article (in the Guardian) on the growing alarm among the French that the semi-colon, or the point-virgule, is disappearing from use. As can be expected, some blame this sad state of affairs on (wait for it . . . ) "France's regrettable recent tendency, under the nefarious influence of ever-encroaching English, to reduce the length of its sentences." We English speakers: we are crude, insensitive, brutish bastards.

An editor, Ms. Sylvie Prioul, notes that "The short sentence has signed the death warrant of the semicolon," while journalist and author Guillemette Faure notes, "It's true that computer programmers use an awful lot of them, mainly as separators. And that's surely the last step on the line before it's reduced to a mere email emoticon."

Well! We at hightouchmegastore only wish we'd known about this sooner, and we'd certainly like to do our part: first of all, by alerting you all to this dire situation; secondly, by upping our semicolon usage, which shouldn't be a problem, since we love the semicolon--in fact, we are champions of all punctuation marks that allow for the maximum complexity in linking clauses and inserting parentheticals; and lastly, and thirdly, if you're counting, we will consider devising a feasibility study to consider whether a fund-raising effort might in fact help to save the semicolon. Think tee-shirts (see above as a hastily composed, nonetheless quite attractive design option); think bumper stickers; think--ultimately--of establishing a fund to give small grants to writers willing to preserve and extend the great complexifying, layering, and hesitational powers of this apparently and sadly underused mark.

3 comments:

Nik said...

Impressive! You are the paragraph-length sentence goddess. Tell me how to order the t-shirt. The semi-colon is dead. Long live the semi-colon.

gilian said...

I'll take mine jr size medium in sky blue, rosebud, buttercup, sage, slate, and of course, when available, the ebony with white semi-colon.

Have you noticed that Microsoft word doesn't type a semi-colon when you push the semi-colon key? There is some process that involves more than one keystroke; apparently, Microsoft has determined that we must all think twice before using a semi-colon.

diane said...

See, I feel like I use it too much. It makes me feel smart; people should revere it as sacred.

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