Saturday, September 17, 2005

Semicolons, Sammy Keen, pushchairs

I admit to a fondness for semicolons; they allow depth and delicacy in a sentence. My old friend David, who lives in Amsterdam, raised the topic the other day. I recommended Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss, which, like everyone else I know who has read it, he seemed to enjoy. Today, I found in the Financial Times magazine an entire article devoted to this item of of punctuation. It seems that Americans in general have a horror of it. One American writer, Donald Barthelme, goes so far as to say: "Let me be plain: the semi colon is ugly, ugly as a tick on a dog's belly, I pinch them out of my prose." As the article, by Trevor Butterworth, makes clear, we would have been robbed of some marvellous English writing by authors as different as Thomas Carlyle and Evelyn Waugh, to mention but two, if there were no semicolons. Butterworth quotes Fowler in support of semicolons: "A style that groups several complete sentences together by the use of semicolons, because they are closely connected by thought, is far more restful and easy for - the reader that is - than the style that leaves him to do the grouping for himself; and yet it is free of the formality of the period ..."

The inscription on a bench I sat on in Mount Pleasant reads: "In memory of Sammy Keen, a very special dog, affectionate and clever."

In the shoe shop, Russell and Bromley, there is a push chair park at the bottom of the stairs leading to the childrens's department. When I passed it, three identical push chairs were parked there.

1 comment:

Lucas said...

Joyce likes the one about Sammy Keene as she has had some very good dogs in her life