Where is the love? Source: David Gura hide caption

itoggle caption Source: David Gura

Sam Roberts, a metro reporter for The New York Times, wrote a nice piece about Neil Neches, "an erudite writer in the transit agency's marketing and service information department" who created many of the public-service advertisements that run along rail cars; above all else, a man who knows how to use a semicolon properly.

One of his placards, rendered famous by today's article, reads, "Please put [your newspaper] in a trash can; that's good news for everyone."

The punctuation mark, Roberts points out, has fallen out of favor; to many people, it is cumbersome and archaic: "Semicolon sightings in the city are unusual, period, much less in exhortations drafted by committees of civil servants. In literature and journalism, not to mention in advertising, the semicolon has been largely jettisoned as a pretentious anachronism."

Because I'm a sucker for sterling syntax, the superfluous comma, and the semicolon (used appropriately), I liked the piece. For Gawker, it was low-hanging fruit: "Fittingly, this impeccable semicolon is in the MTA's house ad about how you should throw away your newspapers when you leave the train instead of leaving them for others to discover the joy of reading."



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I love semicolons and use them often; unfortunately, the blogging/texting culture does a lot to discourage proper spelling and writing skills, never mind punctuation. It bothers me, also, that even news stories forget the proper use of the serial comma. There's nothing superfluous about it, in my opinion!

Sent by Iris M. Gross | 4:22 PM | 2-20-2008