The orthographical literalism of having a period on top of a comma is, in itself, charming. It is the penny-farthing of punctuation—a goofy antique that still works, still conveys. Do we need rules, or Rules, at all?
We seem to need grammatical rules, although what seem to be elemental grammatical rules are likely Vonnegutian in provenance and more mutable than they seem. Likewise, the rule I learned in elementary school about not ending sentences with prepositions.
We know, on some level, that writing rules are there to be broken at our pleasure, to be used in the service of writing effectively, and yet writing is such a difficult task that we instinctively hew to any advice that sounds authoritative, cling to it like shipwrecked sailors on pieces of rotten driftwood.
Some other famous saws that come to mind:. Only then will it have the sound of speech. And more Kurt Vonnegut: In the end, of course, writing is a solitary pursuit, and for both good and ill no one is looking over your shoulder.
Find him online at adamofallonprice. As to the that tired mid-century emphasis on the compactness of prose as the measure of its potency, it is but one more weathered element of dogma. Vonnegut, as a writer, was okay, but he is still in the middling class, keeping company with Hemingway I suppose. But my students were always loath to accept a punctuation mark as a translation of a word! The great writers listed in this essay who were practitioners of the semicolon should be support enough for its continued usage.
Better the semi-colon than the run-on sentences too often seen when a comma is used in place of at least a semi-colon or usually better a period.
I avoided semi-colons for technical reasons when I was writing newspaper ads for Sears refrigerators back in the day; the dots-per-inch were so low in newspapers reprinting these ads that semi-colons came out as commas anyway. I do use semi-colons in real writing. Are you particular about the nature of the employment? Nice use of the subjunctive mood. One of the very best uses of the semi, and an essay that should be taught in every freshman writing class. A transvestite is someone who dresses as the other sex.
A hermaphrodite is a creature that is of both sexes. These days it seems everyone is using nominative case for objects of prepositions and direct objects. I believe Vonnegut and Austen would also disapprove. Your email address will not be published. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
The Millions' future depends on your support. Become a member today. They think I have stopped mid-thought, suddenly discovering that I am in the wrong place, writing the wrong thing to the wrong students. I wrote the following piece in when I was in graduate school in Chicago. It was fun to research and write, but I never had the opportunity to do anything with it.
However, with baseball season just around the corner, and this correspondent already getting excited, it seemed like a reasonable moment to dust off this essay about the colorful history of a neighborhood park where the neighborhood guys still get together to play ball. On the Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend, a school teacher, a real estate agent, a bartender and a legendary record producer played baseball on the grounds of an old cucumber farm.
The cucumber farm is now better known as Winnemac Park, and among its many purposes, it serves as the home field for the Winnemac Electrons, a perennial basement dweller in the Chicago Metropolitan Baseball Association, an 18 and over men's baseball league.
But the park is also a high school athletic facility, an urban nature preserve, and the preferred spot for pickup games of soccer, baseball, Frisbee, and anything else people can think up.
Before the ballplayers arrived on that May morning, the park was serene, but by no means empty. Joggers shared the park's gently curving paths with dogwalkers and the occasional cyclist just passing through.
On the park's northeast corner sits Amundsen High School, a dense brick building that dates back to From the back of the high school, one has a pretty much unimpeded view of the sturdy brick grandstand of Jorndt field, a smart-looking high school football stadium that runs along Leavitt Street on the west side of the park.
The fenced-in field is less than a year old, and it was named after Louis C. Jorndt, a teacher and coach at Amundsen from to Twenty yards to the east of Jorndt field, the game between the Electrons and the Chicago Aviators got underway about twenty minutes late because the umpire got stuck in traffic.
The Electrons typically don't win, but they liked their chances in this game. Ryan Rezvani, a computer lab teacher at Patrick Henry Elementary School said that when the Electrons first started out "we got our ass kicked the whole year. His company, Electrical Audio, is one of the Electrons sponsors, and gives the team its name and logo, a maroon lowercase "e. At 42, he's the oldest member of the team, but he also epitomizes the team's playful spirit.
Before the game, Electrons coach and first baseman Al Stern gathered the team under the paltry shade of a young oak tree and told them not to take the Aviators lightly, even though they were widely regarded as the league's weakest team. Stern read off the starting lineup, and the team gave an earnest round of applause after each name.
Pitching for the Electrons was John Federici, known to his teammates as "J. According to Rezvani, the hardest thing for these teams to find is good pitching, and in Federici, a bartender who many speculated hadn't gone to sleep the night before, the Electrons had found their ace.
He allowed a run in the first inning on a single to left followed by a double to the gap in right, but he would hold the Aviators scoreless for the rest of the seven inning game, striking out One significant outlay is for baseballs.
Every ball that was fouled beyond third base and over the locked fence that surrounds Jorndt Field elicited groans from the players. Beyond the first base line is a patch of knee-high prairie grass, and each time a ball landed in the thicket, one of the Electrons went bounding in to retrieve the ball and save the team some cash. The prairie, crisscrossed by paths, is a reminder of what the park once was, and laminated signs posted by the Chicago Park District help visitors identify the plants that grow there.
After the original prairie was cleared away, this land was a cucumber farm, but as far back as , the 40 acres that constitute Winnemac Park have been in the hands of the city. A man named Charles M. Pettit had used the property to secure the loan. The archives of the Chicago Tribune offer a sketch Winnemac Park's history, one full of sporting events of every kind and at every level.
But before the games could be played, the facilities had to be put in place. From the June 6, , Tribune: Six baseball diamonds will be laid out. A 6, seat stadium, now replaced by Jorndt Field, was put in soon after.
For much of the s the park was the site of WPA projects where workers improved and regraded the land, but by the s the park had fallen into disrepair. Winnemac Avenue, which at the time bisected the park from east to west, was the site of drag races that were accompanied by nightly beer bashes. The drainage systems underneath the fields south of Winnemac had never been properly connected to the city sewers, and after strong rains the park would turn into a muddy lake.
The park's athletic fields, especially the ones used by the public and not the high school, were in disrepair. The paths through the park are now accented by old cobblestones and decorative lights and fencing. The park seems to be a favorite destination for neighborhood residents who flock there on summer evenings and weekend days, but not everyone is happy with the new Winnemac Park.
Markowicz isn't just a disgruntled taxpayer though; over the years, with the blessing of the city, he has spent league money hiring independent contractors to improve the baseball diamonds at Winnemac.
Still, Winnemac is the perfect spot for city baseball players who don't want to trek out to the suburbs for games, and each season four or five teams in the CMBA use Winnemac as their home field. Winnemac "has a notoriously irregular field," Steve Albini said. The bad bounces caused by the pitted infield are so frequent and so noteworthy that the phenomenon has been dubbed "The Winnemac Hop. By the third inning, the Electrons were already pulling away.
They came up to bat in the bottom of the third with a five to one lead, but before the inning could get underway, the Aviators catcher, a wiry fellow who sported a mohawk haircut, got tagged in the nose with an errant warmup pitch.
For some reason he hadn't been wearing his catcher's mask. There was a brief delay as he tried to staunch the bleeding, but that wasn't by any means the first blood spilled at Winnemac in athletic pursuits.
In , Bob Sparks, left fielder of the Ace Staplers, broke his leg above the ankle sliding into second, and in , Jerry Buechel, - the "star senior halfback on Tuley High school's football team," according to the Tribune's report the next day - was knocked unconscious for 20 minutes in a game against Amundsen. Far worse, however, was the fate of fourteen-year-old Aleck Isheksen, who died on the way to the hospital after being struck in the head by a line drive at the park in the summer of The same Aviators catcher who got tagged in the nose in the third had gotten yelled at by the ump in the first for stepping on Electron first baseman, Al Stern's leg as he reached first base on a ground out.
But most games it works out fine. Players have been grumbling at officials in games played at Winnemac for decades now, but on occasion tempers have really flared. In the summer of , a semi-pro soccer game had to be cut short after fans of a team called the Falcons rushed the field and tried to attack the referee for kicking one of their players out of the game. The ref escaped harm. But two years later a halfback for the Eagles, Kas Iwanicki - "address unknown," according to the Tribune report - knocked year-old ref, Eli Korer to the ground with one punch.
Iwanicki was disputing a goal scored by the Falcons the ones with the rowdy fans , and Korer ended up in the hospital with ten stitches. Luckily it appears as though, on at least one occasion, the right of an official not to get slugged was held up in the court of law.
From the July 2, , Tribune: I'll do all I can to protect him,' said Judge John R. As the game wore on, the clouds thickened as they moved in from the west. To the south of Jorndt Field a pair of tennis players were dashing around the public court, and pickup soccer games had sprung up on various empty patches of grass despite the threatening weather.
On a weekend walk through Winnemac, one is likely to encounter several different sports being played, but these are only a tiny fraction of the athletic endeavors that the park has hosted. Soccer, football, and baseball have been the most frequently played sports at Winnemac. Soccer was once the top draw. As many as 7, people came to the park to watch men's amateur and semi-pro soccer games in the s, s, and s. The park has also hosted football games for Amundsen, Senn, Lake View and several other high schools.
The Chicago Bears even worked out there in the s to spare their home turf at Wrigley Field. And baseball, from pickup games, to little league, up through high school, amateur and semi-pro leagues, has been a near constant summer presence at Winnemac for almost a hundred years. But other sports have been contested there as well.
There was once a skating rink in the park that hosted events called Ice Skating Derbies in the s and s. The "National Amateur Athletic union 25 kilometer walking championship" was held there in the s and the park has often been the finish line for long distance running and bicycle races. Games of rugby and cricket have been played there, but perhaps the strangest of all was the Girl Scout Olympics in the summer of According to the Tribune , "A medium sized raw potato, a bean bag, a troop flag and the Stars and Stripes will be the necessary items of equipment for each of the 92 troops participating.
Some of the Electrons raced off through the downpour to their cars in order to make it to holiday barbecues or to head home for a nap, while others strolled triumphantly, if damply, to Gio's, a nearby sports bar that co-sponsors the team. The joy that the Electrons derived from this hobby of theirs - the one that allowed them don uniforms and bat the ball around an emerald oasis in the city - was plain on their faces. As Steve Albini, the patron saint of this plucky club put it, "Baseball for all of us is not the most important thing in our lives, but it's important enough for us to do it.
The guest post comes to us from Scott Esposito. Scott is the editor of The Quarterly Conversation and the host of the literary blog Conversational Reading. The day a website redesigns itself, it's an admission of something. Exactly what, I think depends on the site itself, but inevitably it's a statement, a statement that is the product of a lot of thought.
With all the work involved in a redesign, nobody would undertake one without good reason. One of the exciting things about this redesign is that we have an RSS feed , which now enables us to publish reviews and interviews in between issues. Later, in August, we'll be publishing an interview with a very innovative, fun author that promises to be quite interesting. In addition to publishing more interviews and reviews, the RSS lets us send out regular news updates to readers of the site.
So now we can share our pride at having been included in this year's Best of the Web anthology from Dzanc books; we're also alerting readers and potential contributors to a special section we'll be doing for the Winter issue.
The one thing you won't see change is our mission to publish high quality literary criticism. We're dedicated to giving our writers the space they need to write an in-depth book review, or to write a challenging, rewarding essay. We also remain dedicated to giving our writers the kind of close editing and feedback necessary to ensure that their piece is as good and substantive as can be. At a time when more and more old-media periodicals are openly proclaiming their belief that people want dumbed-down, superficial literary coverage, we remain steadfast in the belief that these exists a large audience that wants in-depth literary criticism that can be read by intelligent laypeople.
When we publish our 13th issue in September, we'll have been around for three years, and in that time the journal has gone from something some friends and I did on a lark to something with a solid foundation, four editors, a budget and production schedule, and writers from all over the globe who read and write in numerous languages.
In other words, the site has become a whole lot more professional; it's much less the vision of one man and much more a structure built and held up by many hands, and in acknowledgment of that, we've managed to develop - again with help, this time from two excellent web designers - a site that reflects the quality we've come to put into each issue. The Quarterly Conversation is far from alone in this greater professionalism - many literature sites that originated around the same time have gone through similar developments, a fact that should please anyone who loves literature.
In fact, it's appropriate that I write about this topic on The Millions , as it's developed into one of the most professionally run book blogs that I read. I think what's going on in sites like The Quarterly Conversation and The Millions is something very timely and also something largely inevitable: Bit by bit these people took what they were doing and made it better and better, and now the litblogosphere has produced some valuable resources and some intelligent critics who promise to become even better with time.
Of course, there has long been a dedicated literary scene, one that predates the emergence of blogs and online book reviews. What I'm happy to be observing is greater interaction and cooperation between the two. This is reflected in The Quarterly Conversation - a lot of our writers cross over between these two venues, and as time passes we're developing better and better relationships with some of the literary institutions that have been around for a while.
Now that we've redesigned the site, this is something we're planning on focusing more energy on. If you're new to The Quarterly Conversation , please drop by and see what we're all about. If you're already familiar with us, then come on over and see our new look. And make sure to let us know what you think and what you'd hope to see in future issues.
I learned how to use semicolons in seventh grade. To this day, I bless that English teacher. Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely. Joe, One of the very best uses of the semi, and an essay that should be taught in every freshman writing class.
Obviously that the semicolon serves no purpose. Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Close writing really is an amazing thing.
Consider that this essay right now has been narrated in the third person, and yet there is no question as to what Clark's opinions are. It is a massive and thorough discourse written by an author supremely confident in his ability to know himself and all of his faculties, from consumption to cognition, in perfect detail. Text Elements Visual Rhetoric: Process and Materials Overview: An Introduction Researching Programs: Practical Considerations Researching Programs: Drafting Your Statement Statements of Purpose: The Basics In-Text Citations: Basic Rules Reference List: Articles in Periodicals Reference List: Other Print Sources Reference List: Electronic Sources Reference List: Organization and Structure Graduate Writing Workshops: Introductions Graduate Writing Workshops: Literature Reviews Graduate Writing Workshops: Style Graduate Writing Workshops: Editing and Proofreading Graduate Writing Workshops: Copyright and Plagiarism Collaborative Authorship Handout:
Note: Some English usage rules vary among authorities. For example, the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook is a guide specific for news media and journalists while The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) .
Incorrect dialogue punctuation and formatting is very common amongst beginning fiction writers. The most common mistake is the use quotations outside of the spoken word. Remember: only the words that the person says should be inside the quotation.
Get Your Copy of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation #1 Resource for Teachers, Students, Professionals, and SAT Preparation All the grammar, punctuation, and usage rules and examples on . Place a question mark or exclamation point within closing quotation marks if the punctuation applies to the quotation itself. Place the punctuation outside the closing quotation marks if the punctuation applies to the whole sentence.
More on these rules later, but first the infamous quote in question: “Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. Punctuation is used to create sense, clarity and stress in sentences. You use punctuation marks to structure and organise your writing. You can quickly see why punctuation is important if you try and read this text which has no punctuation at all.