Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Globe and Fail. Semicolons.

"The company is counting on the new devices to help it weather the rough transition to the more advanced QNX software platform next year. In the meantime, all of the new BlackBerrys – a full touchscreen device; a touchscreen version of its popular Bold smart phone; and a more powerful version of the Torch – run on a sleeker, updated version of the company’s operating system."

(From Wiki)
Applications of the semicolon in English include:

Between items in a series or listing containing internal punctuation, especially parenthetic commas, where the semicolons function as serial commas:
She saw three men: Jamie, who came from New Zealand; John, the milkman's son; and George, a gaunt kind of man.

Between closely related independent clauses not conjoined with a coordinating conjunction:
I went to the basketball court; I was told it was closed for cleaning.

Between independent clauses and semi clauses linked with a transitional phrase or a conjunctive adverb:
Everyone knows he is guilty of committing the crime; of course, it will never be proven.

Of course, the simplest solution would be to write that passage as two separate sentences.

I am learning Office 2010 right now.
I wonder if it can detect those mistakes?
Grammar checkers have progressed since my U days.


Dino Snider said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dino Snider said...

Interesting. Punctuation has 3 levels of strength. But we only add 1 or 2 spaces. Perhaps a revised writing would be more explicit?
1 - commas
2 - colons and semicolons
3 - periods.

Of course, a language with a self- segregating morphology has no need for spaces between words.

I can see that Word still has room for improvement. I might proof read essays for local university students. Until I tested the 2010 version of Word, I was unsure if I had anything to offer.

Dino Snider said...

To be fair, the author responded to my e-mail.
The original version did need those semicolons. However, multiple writers modified his article, and the need for those semicolons was lost.
Again, I was surprised that modern word processors did not detect that problem.