Semicolon: The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark

By: Cecelia Watson

The semicolon. Stephen King, Hemingway, Vonnegut, and Orwell detest it. Herman Melville, Henry James, and Rebecca Solnit love it. But why? When is it effective? Have we been misusing it? Should we even care?

In Semicolon, Cecelia Watson charts the rise and fall of this infamous punctuation mark, which for years was the trendiest one in the world of letters. But in the nineteenth century, as grammar books became all the rage, the rules of how we use language became both stricter and more confusing, with the semicolon a prime victim. Taking us on a breezy journey through a range of examples—from Milton’s manuscripts to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letters from Birmingham Jail” to Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep—Watson reveals how traditional grammar rules make us less successful at communicating with each other than we’d think. Even the most die-hard grammar fanatics would be better served by tossing the rule books and learning a better way to engage with language.

Through her rollicking biography of the semicolon, Watson writes a guide to grammar that explains why we don’t need guides at all, and refocuses our attention on the deepest, most primary value of language: true communication.



Source notes. Index. Black-and-white illustrations, photographs, and reproductions.

ISBN: 9780062853059

JLG Release: Oct 2019


Sensitive Areas: None
Topics: Semicolons , English-language punctuation , Grammar , Usage , History of grammatical rules , Human communication

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Book Details

ISBN

9780062853059

First Release

October 2019

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

428.2

Trim Size

7" x 5"

Page Count

224

Accelerated Reader

Level 0; Points: 0;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 0; Points: 0;

Lexile

Level

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Ecco (Adult)

Potentially Sensitive Areas

None

Topics

Semicolons, English-language punctuation, Grammar, Usage, History of grammatical rules, Human communication,

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