The Wundergrammar: Semicolon Quotes
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
A curiosity: I just finished editing a writer who did not punctuate quotes in the usual style. Instead of using quotation marks, she availed herself of the semicolon. Some examples:
As I left, Ramona said; good luck.
Daniel approached as I sat at the bar, smiled and said; hi, what can I get you?
Julietta smiled and said; hello, my name is Julietta. I will be bringing you to your table.
A good friend of mine advocates abandoning the semicolon altogether — in favor of the em dash — and he's not alone in his disregard for the mark. It may be a sign of the times that someone could even think of using the semicolon like my writer did. As if it has nothing better to do!
At the very least, this usage represents a woeful misreading of the semicolon charter.