Author Kurt Vonnegut on semicolons, from a speech at Albion College in 2002.
“Don’t use semicolons. They stand for absolutely nothing. They are transvestite hermaphrodites. They are just a way of showing off. To show that you have been to college.”
Vonnegut quickly drops the semicolon talk in favor of other topics, which is just as well. Why must the semicolon always take it on the chin? James Kilpatrick once called it “the most pusillanimous, sissified, utterly useless mark of punctuation ever invented” and “a belly-up guppie in a tank of glorious Siamese fighting fish.”
I’m not a major semicolon fan, but I’d never pick it out as the most offensive punctuation mark in the world, either. Punctuation marks are, by nature, inoffensive. You have to work hard to make them offensive!!!!! Even then it’s not the mark that’s offensive, it’s the repetition.
Full respect to the late Mr. Vonnegut, but he was wrong about the semicolon.
(Hat tip: Sagatrope via Mr. Duffy)