Courtesy counts; so does grammar

Tough guy

When I saw this ad on the Orange Line yesterday, my first thought was, "Ooh, that guy looks tough; I don't want him coming over here and ripping my cell phone out of my hands and snapping it in two." Or something like that (since I never use my cell phone on the T because, really, I have nobody to call).

Betty Noir, however, looked at that ad and wondered why the T can't hire copywriters who know how to use semi-colons; like the one that should come between "Please limit your cell phone usage" and "loud conversations can disrupt everyone around you" instead of the comma that uncomfortably rests there. So she is thrilled to report that somebody with a Sharpie has changed the comma there to a semi-colon, at least on a Red Line platform at South Station.

It's enough to make Andrew Watson wonder if there is a tribe of Grammar Vandals in Boston, armed with felt-tip markers as they fight against the forces of darkness and bad grammar.



    Free tagging: 


    by Gian-Carlo Rota

    By on

    Gian-Carlo Rota > I was hired to work on the Dunford-Schwartz project
    > in the summer of 1955, together with Bob McGarvey. Immediately, Jack
    > took us aside and let us in on the delicate matter of the
    > semicolons. There were to be no semicolons in anything we wrote for
    > the project. Dunford would get red in the face every time he saw a
    > semicolon. For years hence, I was terrified of being caught using a
    > semicolon, and you may verify that in the three printed volumes of
    > Dunford-Schwartz not a single semicolon is to be found.

    Semicolons serve no purpose...

    By on

    ...according to Kurt Vonnegut:

    Here is a lesson in creative writing.

    First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.

    And I realize some of you may be having trouble deciding whether I am kidding or not. So from now on I will tell you when I'm kidding.

    transvestite hermaphrodites?

    By on

    Is it even possible to "dress like the opposite sex" when one is intersexed?


    I agree with Kurt. I've

    By on

    I agree with Kurt. I've never met a situation yet where a semicolon worked better than a period. Just use a period. Unfortunately schools seem to have been teaching kids to use semicolons like crazy. I see them all the time and I've only seen one correct usage of them.

    Necessary use of semicolons

    "The day before the election, the candidate visited Columbus, Ohio; Champaign, Illinois; and Flagstaff, Arizona."

    The sentence is confusing if you change the semicolons to commas, and just wrong if you change them to periods.


    By on

    Courtesy counts; so does grammar punctuation.



    By Nick on

    A semi-colon separates two sentences that could conceivably stand on their own, but are closely linked in some way. The phrase that begins 'like the one that should come etc.' is a sentence fragment, so it should be preceded by a comma, not a semi-colon. Sorry.


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    I saw a bus this morning advertising Wheel of Fortune. The phrase they were showing had an errant apostrophe that drove me crazy:

    "The wheel's on the bus."

    I'm sure they meant that the wheels go round and round, not that there was a bus with a wheel on it.

    I don't think so

    I've seen that Wheel of Fortune poster many times, and assumed that the apostrophe is intentional - they *do* mean "The Wheel (i.e., Wheel of Fortune" is on the bus."

    Oh yea

    By on

    Didn't think of it that way. You're probably right.