Semicolon : the past, present, and future of a misunderstood mark / Cecelia Watson.

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  • Author(s): Watson, Cecelia, author
  • Language:
    English
  • Publication Information:
    New York : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2019]
  • Publication Date:
    2019
  • Physical Description:
    213 pages : illustrations ; 19 cm
  • Publication Type:
    Book
  • Document Type:
    Bibliographies; Non-fiction
  • Subject Terms:
  • Additional Information
    • Publication Information:
      First edition.
    • Abstract:
      Summary: Charts the rise and fall of this infamous punctuation mark, which for years was the trendiest one in the world of letters. But in the nineteenth century, as grammar books became all the rage, the rules of how we use language became both stricter and more confusing, with the semicolon a prime example. Watson reveals how traditional grammer rules make us less successful at communication with each other than we might think. She argues that even the most die-hard grammar fanatics would be better served by tossing the rule books and learning a better way to engage with language.
    • Content Notes:
      Introduction: love, hate, and semicolons -- Deep history: the birth of the semicolon -- The science of semicolons: American grammar wars -- sexy semicolons -- Loose women and liquor laws: the semicolon wreaks havoc in Boston -- The minutiae of mercy -- Carving semicolons in stone -- Semicolon savants -- Persuasion and pretension: are semicolons for snobs? -- Conclusion: against the rules?
    • Notes:
      Includes bibliographical references and index.
    • ISBN:
      9780062853059
      0062853058
      9780062853066
      0062853066
      9780062917935
      0062917935
      9780062917942
      0062917943
    • Accession Number:
      2018045968
    • Accession Number:
      on1060579931
      1060579931
    • Accession Number:
      fay.659252
  • Citations
    • ABNT:
      WATSON, C. Semicolon : the past, present, and future of a misunderstood mark. [s.l.] : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2019. Disponível em: . Acesso em: 16 set. 2019.
    • AMA:
      Watson C. Semicolon : The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark. Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers; 2019. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=cat05595a&AN=fay.659252. Accessed September 16, 2019.
    • APA:
      Watson, C. (2019). Semicolon : the past, present, and future of a misunderstood mark. Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=cat05595a&AN=fay.659252
    • Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date:
      Watson, Cecelia. 2019. Semicolon : The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark. Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=cat05595a&AN=fay.659252.
    • Harvard:
      Watson, C. (2019) Semicolon : the past, present, and future of a misunderstood mark. Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers. Available at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=cat05595a&AN=fay.659252 (Accessed: 16 September 2019).
    • Harvard: Australian:
      Watson, C 2019, Semicolon : the past, present, and future of a misunderstood mark, Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, viewed 16 September 2019, .
    • MLA:
      Watson, Cecelia. Semicolon : The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark. Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2019. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=cat05595a&AN=fay.659252.
    • Chicago/Turabian: Humanities:
      Watson, Cecelia. Semicolon : The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark. Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2019. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=cat05595a&AN=fay.659252.
    • Vancouver/ICMJE:
      Watson C. Semicolon : the past, present, and future of a misunderstood mark [Internet]. Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers; 2019 [cited 2019 Sep 16]. Available from: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=cat05595a&AN=fay.659252

Reviews

Booklist Reviews 2019 June #1

Given her enigmatic, esoteric subject, historian Watson has crafted an impeccably readable meditation on the semicolon. Watson travels back in time to the punctuation mark's birth and rise in popularity, and to moments in history when the placement of a semicolon has literally meant the difference between life and death. For all the literary gobbledygook associated with proper punctuation, there is even more fuss over phrasing when it comes to the law. After reviewing the annals of the colon's spunky cousin, Watson employs authors from Herman Melville to Rebecca Solnit to see it in action. Unlike a manual of style, however, this book's examples portion isn't long. Watson instead enforces a thesis stating that devoted adhesion to the rules of Standard Written English is a privilege afforded to very few. She reminds readers that there is an entire world of storytelling and communication that has nothing to do with how a sentence is spliced. It puts punctuation in perspective, which will be of particular significance to grammar sticklers, the readers most likely to pull this one from the shelf. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

PW Reviews 2019 February #4

In this impressive debut, Watson, a historian and philosopher of science, takes readers through a lively and varied "biography" of the semicolon. She covers the punctuation mark's history (which began in 1494 Venice, in a travel narrative about scaling Mount Etna) and changing grammatical function, from creating rhythm to separating two independent clauses, along with the love/hate relationship writers have long had with it. Watson argues, with growing passion as the book progresses, that the semicolon, and punctuation in general, must be deployed with flexibility, not rigid adherence to precedent, and even finds court cases to prove her point, including a controversy in 1900 Massachusetts over whether the semicolon in an onerously restrictive state liquor statute was meant to be read as a comma instead, thus making the law far more liberal. Watson lands an especially strong point with her takedown of the inflexibility and "rule mongering of the David Foster Wallace types" and especially of Wallace himself, for a "speech he liked to give to black students whose writing he perceived to be... ‘non-standard.'?" The stress on compassionate punctuation lifts this work from an entertaining romp to a volume worth serious consideration. (July)Correction: An earlier version of this review misspelled the author's first name.

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.