Tuesday, April 04, 2006

WORDS: Semi-Colonoscopy

I'm finally on the mend and am working on some substantial, nourishing, life-affirming posts. In the meantime, here's this one.

I'm sure your time-frittering IM conversations are at least as entertaining as mine, and probably more so, but this is my blog, so this is what you get:
Rusty: editing question:
Rusty: "And the category seems to have a narrow focus indeed: they take the "dance" part of it very one-dimensionally, meaning there's no room at all for electronic music in a more general sense."
Rusty: what is wrong with this sentence? that colon looks threatening to me
Rusty: i don't care for it
Doppelganger: nope, the colon is good
Rusty: really?
Doppelganger: yep, because the part that follows is a continuation of the part before the colon
Rusty: fuck me
Rusty: i hate writing
Rusty:
and editing

Rusty:
and colons
Doppelganger: colons are tricky. i have to stop and think 'em through sometimes, too
Doppelganger: not like our trusty friend the semi-colon
Rusty: i hate that little bastard too
Doppelganger: whaaaaat?
Doppelganger: take that back
Rusty: no way
Doppelganger: don't ask me to pick sides between you and the semi-colon, dude
Rusty: i'll fuck that little asshole up if I ever get a chance
Doppelganger: what did the semi-colon ever do to you?
Rusty: I'd rather not say.
Doppelganger: except allow you to place two diametrically opposed ideas conveniently within the same sentence, that is
Rusty: LALALALALALA I can't hear you!
Doppelganger: well, the semi-colon has some choice things to say about you
Doppelganger: but he asked me not to tell
Rusty: well, screw him.
Doppelganger: it hurts the semi-colon when you say these things. the colon? he can take it. but the semi-colon is sensitive.

11 comments:

Karen said...

I'd capitalize "They" after the colon.

Doppelganger said...

I think that depends on which manual or style guide you're using. I know that capitalizing the first word after a colon is acceptable, but it's not always the rule.

landismom said...

Please never visit my blog again. I'm sure that I'm violating all kinds of punctuation rules over there.

At least in comments, I'm brief enough to be correct.

I hope.

British Adventuress said...

I can't get Zach to IM with me at all. "I always feel like you're a keystroke away from asking me what I'm wearing." Plus, he has no truck with smilies. So instead, it's usually me, Yahoo! IM, and my boss as we try to figure out why the new gal chose those earrings to wear today. (Reason: we still don't know.)

Anyway: mad props to the colon and semi-colon; I only wish more people understood their mystic magic.

PS: Thanks for getting my back from the mean comment guy.

j said...

Well, the real problem with writing is that sometimes you get into situation where you're stuck with messed-up sentences. I think editors should help you get out of them.

I suggest the following:

In addition, the category seems to have a narrow focus: the "dance" portion is treated one-dimensionally with, for a general example, no leeway granted to electronic music.

Of course, I work in PR so I may be completely insane.

j said...

Oh - and in case you were wondering - any insanity is caused by the boss refusing to use semi-colons.

Doppelganger said...

landismom, I'm never critical of other people's punctuation and whatnot unless they're the kind of person who starts it by being all snotty and cocky about it. I'm all about the inclusiveness and the sharing of ideas and the fun with words! (This declaration is intended to cover my own ass because, while I do proofread my posts before I publish, I'm sure I miss stuff all the time.)

Brit, tell Zach that's the FUN of IMing. Unless he's trying to keep what he's wearing a secret. In that case, I'd ask him what he's hiding.

J, in Rusty's situation, he's not supposed to do any kind of substantive editing. He just does straight-up copyediting and proofreading of other people's writing before posting it to a public forum. So, alas, subtle rewriting (my preferred course of action, not that I'm a control freak or anything) ain't an option.

"Oh - and in case you were wondering - any insanity is caused by the boss refusing to use semi-colons."

Ha! I love those situations where a boss is so threatened by an aspect of spelling, grammar, or punctuation that they declare a veto on the thing. I once had a boss who couldn't wrap her peabrain around the fact that some proper sentences can start with the word "because" ("Because of the city's invasion by large, carnivorous worms, work attendance dropped off considerably.") and some sentences cannot ("Because I said so."), so she unilaterally outlawed all sentences starting with the word.

And yes, this woman was a "professional" editor. Though she doesn't hold a candle to another "editor" I worked with who refused to believe, even when confronted by encyclopedic evidence, that lemmings are not reptiles.

Em said...

The hell? Semi-colons have kept me sane in a world where everyone I meet thinks that commas can replace every other kind of punctuation, including periods.

Anonymous said...

As a regular reader and biologist, the lemmings as reptiles thing made me laugh out loud. Oh, the mental images!

-Megan

Sweetie Darling said...

One of the defining moments of my life occured sophomore year in high school, when the light bulb went on and I understood the magic of the semi-colon. I've only recently started appreciating the power of the colon.

(That last sentence is bound to show up in some twisted Google search one day...)

j said...

doppelganger: You're as gracious as always. Only after I had posted, and a few hours passed, did I think, "Why am I bothering them with how I would rewrite the sentence?"

Ah well, I'm sure my personality could use some subtle rewriting.

P.S. Lemmings don't really commit suicide by running off cliffs. Evidently that analysis was completely fabricated: http://www.abc.net.au/science/k2/moments/s1081903.htm

I've never been so happy for a reptile in my life.