Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Word Wise Wednesday

This might be my last WWW post. It's been fun. But I'm running out of ideas. And I feel like, with my limited time to write, I'm only writing about punctuation or grammar lately.

We'll see. Even with my limited knowledge, I continue to be devoted to correct punctuation and grammar (though, I'm sure I'm often ignorant of correct usage). Even in text messages! But my initial mission of wanting to rid the world of grammar abusers might have been overly ambitious. (That wasn't really my mission, I guess, but it does make me so sad to read the horrendous English that people post on facebook these days.)

Also, I have to return Eats, Shoots and Leaves back to the library. Surprisingly enough, I've been able to renew it a few times. No one else had put a hold on it! Imagine that! You really should read it.

Anyways, I definitely wanted to cover the colon which Lynn Truss illuminated beautifully for me:

"Expectation is what these stops (punctuation marks) are about; expectation and elastic energy. Like internal springs, they propel you forward in a sentence towards more information, and the essential difference between them is that while the semicolon lightly propels you in any direction related to the foregoing, the colon nudges you along lines already subtly laid down." pg 100

" A colon is nearly always preceded by a complete sentence, and in its simplest usage it rather theatrically announces what is to come. Like a well-trained magician's assistant, it pauses slightly to give you time to get a bit worried, and then efficiently whisks away the cloth and reveals the trick complete." pg 103

As an example she gives the following sentence punctuated in three ways:

"Tom locked himself in the shed. England lost to Argentina."

Above, these may or may not be related. Just two facts in the past tense.

"Tom locked himself in the shed; England lost to Argentina."

The semicolon conveys that these sentences are related, yet not necessarily in a causal fashion. We can't be sure that Tom locked himself in the shed because England lost to Argentina. These two things could simply be on a list of things "that really got on the nerves of someone else. 'It was a terrible day, Mum: Tom locked himself in the shed; England lost to Argentina; the rabbit electrocuted himself by biting into the power cable of the washing machine.'" pg 112

"Tom locked himself in the shed: England lost to Argentina"

The colon makes it crystal clear. Tom locked himself in the shed because England lost to Argentina.

I thought this was a fabulous example of punctuation usage and also how various marks can influence the interpretation of a sentence. Hopefully you will find it equally helpful!

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