Real Men Don't Use Semi-colons
Thursday, August 21, 2008
As a writer and reader, I adore the elegance and subtlety of the semi-colon; as an editor, the proper use of semi-colons in story submissions definitely scores bonus points with me. But according to James Kilpatrick (quoted recently in The Boston Globe), the semi-colon is "girly," "odious," and "the most pusillanimous, sissified, utterly useless mark of punctuation ever invented."
Not only is he utterly wrong about this, and not only is it weird to assign a gender to a punctuation mark, I'm also struck by the fact the "odious" nature of the semi-colon, according to Fitzpatrick, seems to derive from this supposed association with women. It makes me bristle when the word "girly" is casually tossed around as a form of abuse, as though being a girl is such a dreadful thing. The Broadsheet column over at Salon.com has a great tongue-in-cheek response to this nonsense.