I wish I had been following this thread as I imagine this is a reply. But your post stands alone quite well - maybe even better as its own declaration.
Patchen, thanks for digging up this article, which I found interesting, though ultimately not very useful, practically speaking. While there is, I think, some validity to the concerns about very subtle shades of meaning they discuss, such concerns are at such a high level of abstruseness that nearly all writers can function perfectly well without ever considering them, which is why they're entirely ignored by most sources that discuss the use of the semicolon. These writers themselves say, "The distinction between desirable and deplorable commas of this class is often subtle and paper-thin." In fact, these concerns are so picky that they mostly end up in the realm of subjective judgments about what rhythm is best, which will vary from editor to editor and reader to reader. The subjective nature of their judgments is shown by the fact that they aren't even able to clearly state any objective criterion for those judgments; they say that we may join independent clauses with a comma instead of a semicolon "...when the second clause is to be understood as looping back to catch up and carry forward the sense of the first", but as far as I can see, that's always the case when we join independent clauses with a semicolon! The writers complain about someone's "extreme of pedantry", but to me their own tone seems pretty pedantic--"more sensitive and picky than thou"--and to what purpose? Everyone reading these words will do just fine for the rest of their lives if they just apply the semicolon rules I've already mentioned in this thread, including the rule that allows commas to be used when the independent clauses involved are items in a list. But thanks for sharing an interesting article anyway, Patchen.
Those words were the bane of my life as an engineering student in the 60's! Many of the authors of our textbooks cavalierly referred to the concepts they were unwilling to explain with such terms, implying that students who didn't follow the sketchy reasoning were deficient.
Last edited by Barry; 07-04-2012 at 04:14 PM.
The following member has expressed gratitude to Karl Frederick for this post:
"Well, there ain’t no Academy of Engleesh."
While I agree with your comments about idiosyncratic punctuation. (Let's not forget syntax and style!) Your claim, quoted above, quixotic as it is, is literally false.
It's called the MLA.
Your's in epiphenomenal badinage,