Thursday, September 24, 2009

Drumroll...Sparklers...March Out The Band:
it's National Punctuation Day! Now is your
chance to honor the ellipsis, the semi-colon,
and the nearly-extinct hyphen. And just last
night at dinner, when P. and I weren't even
aware of that we were on the eve of this great
national holiday, we had a lengthy discussion
(actually, more of a debate) of -- yes -- hyphens!
Adjectival phrases! Adverbial phrases!
I stand staunchly in the pro-hyphen camp,
while P. is more middle-of-the-road, hyphen-wise.
(Not pro hyphen or middle of the road.) (Ahem.)
When I pointed out that we were Punctuation Nerds,
he quickly excluded himself from that group,
stating that, of the two of us, I was the only
card-carrying member of the above-mentioned group.
And I'm damn proud of it! Save the hyphens!

(P. suggested our president change his name
in honor of today to Barack O'Comma.)


  1. I'm in with you T--where would we be without hyphens & especially semi-colons (which themselves require a hyphen!)

  2. John, your membership card is in the mail. ;)

  3. I have been accused of being a "hyphen-hog" in the past which has led to a life-long fear of overusing my beloved dashes...of course I think that's in reference to the windy double-dash used in dependent clauses, i.e., "the storm rushed in--and we rushed out!" God I love grammar.
    Count me in, T!

  4. My pet peeve is when people use a single dash for dependent clauses instead of double dashes -- and aren't there supposed to be spaces before and after?

  5. Robin, Louie, aren't you referring to the em-dash?!!!

  6. Yes, but many text editors don't have an em dash, so it is represented by two dashes.

  7. How can I have forgotten? I was ever so excited when I heard that today was National Punctuation Day, and I fully intended to blog about it, but I forgot. I'm glad you stepped in -- as it were. That last was by way of demonstrating to myself the use of the em-dash. I'm afraid I'm one of those ignoramae (That's the feminine plural. I may not know my dashes, but I can still decline Latin nouns, thank you) who didn't know, until this very moment, that I was supposed to use two hyphens for dependent clauses. I do, however, leave a space on each side of my woefully inadequate single hyphen, so I guess I'm not totally beyond the pale.

    All that hyphen talk aside, I must put in a word for the apostrophe. I find it most upsetting, the way that little mark hops about, appearing and disappearing like the Cheshire cat, popping up in the most unlikely places -- for instance, before the final s in a plural noun (Who let the dog's out?) and in the word its (it's < sic >) when the word is a possessive pronoun, not a contraction. Here in Canada, the apostrophe has disappeared from Tim Horton's, our popular doughnut store chain. The stores are now called Tim Hortons. My theory is that all those missing apostrophes have hidden themselves (though not very well) in the 3rd person singular, neuter possessive pronoun. I want them put back. Immediately.