Sunday, September 18, 2005


THE FINANCIAL TIMES NEEDS A SEMICOLONIC


The Financial Times begins a noble effort at grammatic clarity as regards the semicolon, that punctuation hybrid that is more than a comma yet less than a period (which is why it contains both) and is unsurprisingly found useless by those who write like they're laying bricks, rather than as a tree grows. I for one, though American, am fully in the pro-semicolon camp, where I have a small leaky tent in the corner, by the latrines. However, when I went to place my vote for the semicolon in this admirable FT quest for understanding, I came to this:

Are you for or against the semicolon?
Choices:
Yes
No

I'd assumed that lucidity of thought and expression was the overall aim here, but this presents a much bigger grammatic problem than any semicolon ever could. The choices "YES, I am for or against" and "NO, I am for or against" surely were not concocted by a native speaker of English, let alone a writer? I can't see any point to voting. Maybe if they threw in a bunch of semicolons;;;

Article

Vote

2 comments:

Thomas Fitzsimmons said...

Oi yoi yoi. Good catch, Robert.

Robert Brady said...

Maybe not so amazing in this day and age of collapsing standards...