This blog tries to reclaim the lost magic and tarnished reputation of the semicolon; our most valuable and flexible punctuational friend, and one this writer has kept in close touch with over the years; even at times when it has been blackballed from polite literary society or – at best – tolerated with hardly concealed suspicion.
Lionel Shriver a few years ago described the semicolon as “beleaguered” and “being eaten alive by the rapacious em-dash”. Why should this be? For my part I can’t understand why the semicolon is not the most popular member of the punctuation fraternity.
Quite literally the semicolon “makes sense”. It brings sense to any sentence where it is used; a subtle half-break to highlight the natural breath-point of the sentence and restore natural rhythm and cadence.
We acknowledge in this blog that the semicolon can be overused, almost a fetish for some writers. That word fetish is a bit theatrical, but I see the point. Here we argue that maybe the pendulum has swung too far the other way and – while avoiding compulsive overuse and sordid linguistic gratification – let’s leave some space in our hearts and minds for this special instrument.