The Semi-colon Ranger

Correct punctuation must be extremely rare in New York, because the Times has taken the trouble to hunt down a city transit employee who correctly used a semi-colon on a subway placard.

It was nearly hidden on a New York City Transit public service placard exhorting subway riders not to leave their newspaper behind when they get off the train.

“Please put it in a trash can,” riders are reminded. After which Neil Neches, an erudite writer in the transit agency’s marketing and service information department, inserted a semicolon. The rest of the sentence reads, “that’s good news for everyone.”

Yes. Yes, it is. You go, punctuation boy.

The article’s amusing, not least for including this quote.

“When Hemingway killed himself he put a period at the end of his life,” Kurt Vonnegut once said. “Old age is more like a semicolon.”

A punctuation simile. Grammar: is there anything it can’t do?

3 responses to “The Semi-colon Ranger

  1. Great article, and references to serial killers too!

  2. Mr. Vonnegut had another comment regarding semicolons. From his collection of essays, “A Man Without a Country” (2005):

    I really miss the guy…

  3. Two closely-related independent clauses balanced by a semi-colon. Ah. As usual, I’m marking, so that article just made my heart sing. Among my students semi-colons seem to function as an aesthetic variation from the visual monotony of commas, e.g., “Margery Kempe; the ever-indebted woman, saw Christ in a completely different way….” Yes, that’s a semi-colon for apposition.

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