Like the semi-colon. Who was the grammar Wunderkind who decided that we needed a way to indicate a pause in a sentence that was shorter than a colon, way shorter than a full stop, longer than a comma? A mark that indicates the apodosis is related to the protasis yet is a complete concept by itself; more closely related than a comma would imply, but not as closely as a colon?

The semi-colon is the siren of grammar. It says, “Wait! This thought isn’t complete: there’s so – much – more.” If it were a colon you would know what was coming: expansion. Explanation. Justification. If it were an em-dash you’d expect something Big. A revelation. A shock. If it were a comma you’d read over it as quickly as possible, trying not to let it affect you. The semi-colon is a tantalus; you can’t guess what’s coming next. It makes you want – need – to read what’s next.

I adore the semi-colon; I really do. It is svelte and esoteric. Used properly, it makes Seuss seem like Cicero.

But that’s not what this post was originally about. Oh well; more of that another time.

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