Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pardon my grammar

I am a grammar geek. I keep my AP Style Guide nestled beneath my desk and silently cringe every time someone ends a sentence with a preposition. But, even I can't buy into the gender sensitivity of punctuation.

Over at Salon.com, there is a discussion on the femininity of the semi-colon. Who cares, right? But what irks me is the evolution of the debate and it's underlying implications. To sum up the highlights, when Trevor Butterworth asked celebrated writers and editors about their aversion to the semi-colon, it was implied that Americans are intimidated by its "nuance" and "complexity." Why not just use a period? It's easy. It's the McDonald's combo meal of punctuation. Sure, I buy that.

But, some take great offensive at this "useless" little symbol. Like Mr. Kilpatrick's assertion that "This pathetic hybrid is so shy, so bashful, so gutless, so easily overlooked, that a reader runs right over it.The semicolon is a belly-up guppie in a tank of glorious Siamese fighting fish. It's girly." Girly? Did I miss something?

Why is "pathetic" equated with being "girly." The implication is that femininity is synonymous with feeble, inadequate uselessness. That something deemed nonessential and purposeless is decidedly womanly. Hold on there, Grammar Guy. I think you might be mistaken. Might I suggest you take that girly little semicolon and shove it up your asterisk;) Still bashful?

3 comments:

Dan said...

Well pull my straight card. I'm a guy, and I use semi-colons all the time; in fact, there's one right now!

Yours Truly said...

At least you followed with a very masculine exclamation point. I'm sure that counts for a lot;)

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