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Old 03-08-2013, 11:57 AM   #76
HarryT
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Originally Posted by Prestidigitweeze View Post
I'd hate to see what British listeners picture when composers and academics talk about periodic rhythms.
Context is key, as has been said. Chemists talk about the Periodic Table; theatre producers talk about period costume. But the word "period", with no understandable context (and its use as a punctuation mark would be completely meaningless to the average British reader) would bring menstrual cycles to the mind of the average British reader in the absence of any other context.
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Old 03-08-2013, 01:04 PM   #77
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Context is key, as has been said. Chemists talk about the Periodic Table; theatre producers talk about period costume. But the word "period", with no understandable context (and its use as a punctuation mark would be completely meaningless to the average British reader) would bring menstrual cycles to the mind of the average British reader in the absence of any other context.
What is your basis for making that statement? I am not contesting the potential truth of it, it might be, but it seems odd to me at least.
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Old 03-08-2013, 01:09 PM   #78
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What is your basis for making that statement? I am not contesting the potential truth of it, it might be, but it seems odd to me at least.
Personal experience.
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Old 03-09-2013, 07:29 PM   #79
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Context is key, as has been said. Chemists talk about the Periodic Table; theatre producers talk about period costume. But the word "period", with no understandable context (and its use as a punctuation mark would be completely meaningless to the average British reader) would bring menstrual cycles to the mind of the average British reader in the absence of any other context.
Always good to get a refresher on usage, Harry, and there's a ton about British usage that I don't know. But I hope you realize that my previous post was actually a joke. I might have mentioned this before, but my father was from the UK and eventually returned there by the time I was in my '20s, so I was aware that inferring periodic to mean of the menstrual cycle was wee Hank far-fetched.

Incidentally, I'd love to know what you think of my friend's book on the differences between British and American usage. He's an American poet who lived in London for many years.

The book's titled Transatlantic Bridge and appears to be free for Prime members.

Last edited by Prestidigitweeze; 03-09-2013 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 03-09-2013, 10:53 PM   #80
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A semicolon...is it a coma or is it a period? I don't think even it knows what it is.
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Old 03-10-2013, 06:47 AM   #81
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A semicolon...is it a coma or is it a period? I don't think even it knows what it is.
It's neither. It has an role that's distinct from both.
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Old 03-10-2013, 07:10 AM   #82
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
A semicolon...is it a coma or is it a period? I don't think even it knows what it is.
This is your colon:
:
This is your colon on drugs:
;
Any questions?
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Old 03-10-2013, 10:41 AM   #83
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A colon is most often used to enumerate a list of items (or an item) or to use before a quoted text.

One most often uses a semi-colon to show a relationship between two independent clauses within one sentence.



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Old 03-10-2013, 11:09 AM   #84
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Some people absolutely hate the things. I've heard people argue that there's nothing that can be accomplished with a semicolon that can't be better accomplished with a period.
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Old 03-10-2013, 11:14 PM   #85
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This thread is periodically revived.
I wonder when we'll be done with the semicolonoscopy
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Old 03-11-2013, 05:40 AM   #86
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Some people absolutely hate the things. I've heard people argue that there's nothing that can be accomplished with a semicolon that can't be better accomplished with a period.
Anyone who says that is an idiot. The use of a semi-colon as a list separator (in situations where the list items contain commas) can self-evidently NOT be replaced with a full stop (period).
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Old 03-12-2013, 11:40 AM   #87
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On the nether hind, if a writer makes the stylistic decision to avoid semicolons for reasons which are not prescriptive, then the question becomes whether or not the writer's avoidance techniques are graceful and effective. When detective writers are willing to treat a single dependent clause as an entire paragraph, the sense of continuation becomes implicit. Even their full stops become commas and compressed ellipses.

If I'm writing a story for a commercial publication, I'll often leave out semicolons, since they can annoy the person who votes on acceptance and the copy editor will probably replace them with periods anyway. If I'm writing a story in a more formal, antiquated or difficult style, or for a small press, I might leave them in depending on the style and conventions of the particular piece.

It might be better if we made a distinction as to whether a person condemns semicolon use or avoids it for personal/professional reasons. Novelists often avoid them, but no one who reads Henry James can disapprove of his semicolons without appearing tone-deaf. You don't have to like James's style, but you should at least grasp the structure of his sentences and the function of his punctuation in making subtle connections.

Imagine a world in which legal documents were purged of semicolons. The lists Harry mentions would appear nonsensical without them.

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Old 03-13-2013, 03:04 AM   #88
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Word is constantly telling me to use semicolons, but I'm not too fond of them. I generally try to find another way around them (like splitting the sentence, joining with another word etc). I think though, that they have their place, and I probably need to learn more about them!
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Old 03-13-2013, 05:08 AM   #89
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English grammar is difficult.

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Old 03-13-2013, 05:09 AM   #90
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Word is constantly telling me to use semicolons, but I'm not too fond of them. I generally try to find another way around them (like splitting the sentence, joining with another word etc). I think though, that they have their place, and I probably need to learn more about them!
The thought occurs to me that if you were not taught how to use a common punctuation symbol correctly when you were in your early years of school, that perhaps indicates a serious failing of the educational system. I would regard teaching children the correct use of punctuation as pretty basic education. Mind you, I see posts here every day from people who are obviously well-read, but who don't appear to know the difference between "its" and "it's", so perhaps such failings are common.
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