WhatsApp us

Semicolon The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark

(10 customer reviews)
Add to compare
SKU: B07F13BLCT Categories: ,

From the Publisher




Specification: Semicolon The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark

ASIN ‏ : ‎


Publisher ‏ : ‎

Ecco (July 30, 2019)

Publication date ‏ : ‎

July 30, 2019

Language ‏ : ‎


File size ‏ : ‎

15701 KB

Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎


Screen Reader ‏ : ‎


Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎


X-Ray ‏ : ‎

Not Enabled

Word Wise ‏ : ‎


Sticky notes ‏ : ‎

On Kindle Scribe

Print length ‏ : ‎

221 pages

Best Sellers Rank:

#1 in Etymology (Books)

Customer Reviews:

356 ratings

10 reviews for Semicolon The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark

5.0 out of 5
Write a review
Show all Most Helpful Highest Rating Lowest Rating
  1. Dr. S

    Such a great book. Full of interesting history and just really engaging. Beyond that, though, it gives perspective to the whole “rules of usage” perspective that we’ve all been brought up with. In the past, punctuation was essentially just musical notation of the sound that the written sentence would have, were it spoken; it was quite subjective, and only there to help the writing to be expressive of the writer’s intent. It was only in the 19th century that rules of grammar became big, and punctuation became all about obedience to these rules. Of course, good writers today and in the past 200 years have rejected those rules and used grammar in the service of their own idea of good writing. But– like the practice of starting sentences with a conjunction– we view this as rule-breaking, rather than questioning our own rules-based paradigm of punctuation. What is the point of punctuation? To obey rules or to increase clarity or make beautiful, artful writing?These questions are front and center in this book, as are instances illustrating the real-life importance of punctuation in communication. The consequences of over-focusing on punctuation according to the rules, rather than the intent of writers, are illustrated by some horrible examples of criminal law gone wrong.

    Helpful(0) Unhelpful(0)You have already voted this
  2. Brian

    I quit using semicolons years ago because I didn’t know how to use them; because I didn’t want to; because I’d read that dashes are just as useful. But, after reading this book, I’m using a lot more semicolons (correctly, I might add); far fewer dashes. My writing feels better now. Note: This is a book that you can also read just for fun.

    Helpful(0) Unhelpful(0)You have already voted this
  3. Nancy Miller

    I teach English at the college and university levels, and have always been in love with the sexiest of punctuation marks, the semi-colon. I’ve also used Martin Luther King’s letter from Birmingham Jail, paragraph 14, in discussing its use in freshman comp classes (as well as in Virginia Woolf’s writing), so I was more than delighted to see this example also being brought forth in this beautiful little book. Even if your idea of a good time is not contemplating the relevance or significance of the semi-colon, you’re sure to be impressed with the back story/history of the mark, its significance in terms of societal-cultural meaning through the ages, and the marvelous sense of humor that runs like a thread throughout. Cecelia Watson is a wickedly wonderful writer, and I totally enjoyed every page of this gem. I’m also recommending it to my students, the ones who are as obsessed as I am over punctuation and its dwindling emphasis in contemporary writing classes.

    Helpful(0) Unhelpful(0)You have already voted this
  4. David Shawn Klein

    What a terrific read. Watson writes with clarity and wit; she’s an alchemist who turns the history of the semicolon, and debates about its use, into one of the most entertaining books I’ve read. My only complaint is how she curdles the fun into a breezy, but perhaps unsupportable (I say perhaps because I don’t come close to Watson’s deep-in-the-weeds mastery of our complicated, refractory language) last chapter where she seems to argue for a democratizing relaxation of language rules, even when educating children, that would appear, if you play her argument out, to make her mastery superfluous–or available only to an elite. If language is, and should be, as changeable as she argues, then has she wasted her life in trying to master it?But apart from that small objection, I had a great time.

    Helpful(0) Unhelpful(0)You have already voted this
  5. Miraz Jordan

    This is a wonderful book, beautifully written, with a great deal of humour. I highlighted a load of gems as I went through. So interesting to read how a semicolon shut down bars in Boston, how grammarians have endlessly argued over it, how some sticklers for arbitrary rules decided they were the right person to rewrite Shakespeare and other greats. This book has inspired me to just get on and enjoy my love of language in both reading and writing.

    Helpful(0) Unhelpful(0)You have already voted this
  6. Pavel Anni

    The book is full of great stories and anecdotes about the role of punctuation and specifically the semicolon. I didn’t think I would enjoy this seemingly boring subject. Apparently the world of punctuation is full of drama and fights.The book is short so you can easily finish it in one weekend.Interestingly enough, the semicolons we put in programs written in C and JavaScript were not covered in this book. They probably will be in the second volume 🙂

    Helpful(0) Unhelpful(0)You have already voted this
  7. alex wilson

    Although by a different writer, this is similar to ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves’ and that’s a compliment. It is in the category of ‘who knew?’ books that pulverize an arcane subject in a delightfully academic way. It was a fun and informing read and I passed it on to a smart person who would appreciate the nuances of this archeological dig into the history and conflicts of this seemingly benign single punctuation mark. Such scope!

    Helpful(0) Unhelpful(0)You have already voted this
  8. Ms. Stephanie Tomiyasu

    This is a wonderful book. It’s a real page-turner, hard to put down. You might not imagine that in a book about the history and usage of semi-colons, but the author presents it all with a light touch that is delightful. After I’ve finished the book, I’m going to pass it on to one of my friends. Of course the author would prefer if I bought another copy, but anyway that’s my plan.

    Helpful(0) Unhelpful(0)You have already voted this
  9. James A. Cates

    A wonderful, book-length essay on grammar. Watson’s wit, spontaneity, and use of source material keeps it from becoming a diatribe on the evils of grammarians, although her position is clear. The title is a tad misleading, as the much-maligned semicolon is used as a reference point for the peccadilloes of punctuation in general. This little gem is now sitting proudly on my shelf, dwarfed only in physical size by its cousins such as the Chicago Manual of Style!

    Helpful(0) Unhelpful(0)You have already voted this
  10. mllelynnemarie

    Watson has written a lively book to join the small pool of books about grammar and its like that enliven lovers of the language everywhere English is spoken. I have a small collection and I go back and read one or another frequently. They could be a bore, but most usually are humorous as well as enlightening.

    Helpful(0) Unhelpful(0)You have already voted this

    Only logged in customers who have purchased this product may leave a review.

    Hafsa Colleciton
    Compare items
    • Total (0)