You Are a Dash
Tip of the Week — Copyediting Newsletter: March 4, 2008
Subject: The Semicolon Appreciation Society
I've lost count now of how many people have sent me the link to the New York Times article on the surprisingly correct use of a semicolon in an ad that appears in New York subway trains. Just in case you're one of the three word lovers on the planet who haven't heard the story, and since I'm not sure how long the link to the NYT story will be live before it goes into the pay-per-download archive, let me summarize it for you.
In early February, an ad that included the following text appeared in New York subway trains (yes, I jotted it down as soon as I saw it—this is why I get funny looks on the subway): "It doesn't matter what you read, its language or viewpoints. Please put it in a trash can; that's good news for everyone."
The use of the semicolon was unusual enough to catch a reporter's attention; the resulting story (published on February 18) was quickly picked up by news outlets across the country.
It also, of course, caught the eye of Copyediting contributor Erin McKean, who decided it was high time to start a Semicolon Appreciation Society. Check out her February 22 posting on her blog, Dictionary Evangelist. She even had some semicolon T-shirts made, available through Café Press (follow the links from her blog). I'm gettin' me some semicolon stickers.
National Grammar Day is Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Danny Marcus (our proofreader) strikes again: he alerted me to the existence of SPOGG (the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar) and its nomination of Tuesday, March 4, as National Grammar Day.
— Wendalyn Nichols