Thursday, February 21, 2008

so I'm a pretentious anachronism

Celebrating the Semicolon in a Most Unlikely Location (NYT)

Did I miss the memo on semicolons? As in, nobody uses them anymore besides me and a properly educated guy who works for NY Transit? To quote the article, "the semicolon has been largely jettisoned as a pretentious anachronism." PRETENTIOUS ANACHRONISM, Astrid bellows in outrage? Or just good grammar? Jesus H. Also, I can't believe that people are making a big deal about this, and now I'm contributing to the big deal by making a big deal out of the big deal. Sigh.

On a mostly unrelated note, I discovered that if you double click any word on the NY Times website, you get a pop up box with the dictionary definition of that word. It's kind of handy, actually.


  1. Alas; it's a world that thinks the semicolon is either for emoticon winks or it's some lesser known part of digestive system.

    Even some JavaScript programmers ignore the semicolon.

  2. I don't know programming; is the semicolon necessary for it, unnecessary, or semi-necessary?

    I've also just realized that the more I type "necessary," the more peculiar it looks to me.

  3. Lord knows I have a love/hate relationship with the word "necessary"... Whenever I spell it correct it looks wrong and then I spell it wrong unless I triple check myself even though I got it right the first time.

    The semicolon is used in a few different programming languages. Wikipedia has a nice article about the character:

    JavaScript does not require the use of semicolons; programming languages like C & C++ will and if you miss just one semicolon it crap out your code.
    If you want to use CSS inline your web content using a span tag, you'll need the semicolon to separate each attribute placed in the quotes.

    My first real experience with the semicolon was back when I had a Commodor64 and at first all I did was use all the odd symbols to create ASCII landscapes, and the semicolon was sometimes used for animal legs. I sort'a thought back then the semicolon was the lower case i's hipper sister or something silly like that.

  4. Funny, I don't really think of CSS as programming, but I guess it is. Programming Lite, more like.

    Mainly, I love the idea of a semicolon as "the lower case i's hipper sister". Nice!

  5. Yes, CSS isn't a programming language, it's a stylesheet language that allows it's design definitions to cascade through a document. It's name describes it's behavior.

    I consider HTML programming lite too (it's the MaryJane of programming, an entry level language consuming the young & geeky leading them unwittingly into the underbelly of structured code and slick scripts), you just type into an editor the content and encase it in tags by what form of content the browser should regard it as. CSS overpowers the X/HTML and redefines the the document to be displayed however the style is defined. CSS can also change depending on how it is viewed with the "media" attribute when it's viewed on a computer screen or printed, or even listened to using aural settings.

    CSS much more powerful than people realize. It's your mistress and you don't realize her hold on you until you're wearing... Umm, sorry got carried away there.

    Oh, and sadly, sometimes the ignorant mistake the semicolon for a pygmy lowercase j.


  6. Oh, it's so sad to see the other letters and punctuations misusing them in contests of semicolon-tossing.

    The shame! The Shame!