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22 August 2004 @ 01:15 pm
Mercedes Lackey: Corrupter of Grammar  
Living with llamabitchyo does weird things to your mind. Or at least your perceptions of authors' grammar.

One day I was in a fluffy mood, so I pulled out one of Mercedes Lackey's Arrows series. As I was reading along, I noticed a sentence that used a semicolon improperly. Grr.

I kept reading along, and I noticed another semicolon. And another.

Then I turned the page.

Yes, you read that correctly. There were three semicolons on the same page. Y'know, that was fine in older styles of prose writing. But these days?

I kept reading, and realized that Mercedes Lackey is single-handedly consuming the world's semicolon resources.

After going through pages and pages of the book I realized that just about every page had a semicolon on it. On a whim, I declared that she must have an average of one semicolon per page. So I sat down and went through the book and counted.

There is actually an average of 1.74 semicolons per page, for a total of 510 semicolons used. The highest number of semicolons used on a single page is 8, which was found on page 245. There were a total of 51 pages that had no semicolons on them whatsoever. I didn't count how many times semicolons were used improperly. It would just take too long. The non scientific answer is: lots.

(For reference, the book is Arrow's Fall.)

Yeah, that was anal. I'm like that sometime, y'know.

(Now I can throw the piece of paper that I had all the counts on away. Yay, moving!)
SnarkyLlamallamabitchyo on August 22nd, 2004 09:45 pm (UTC)
Okay, it took until that last line for me to figure out why you were telling that story now. Ah, nostalgia.
Sandpanthersandpanther on August 23rd, 2004 09:23 pm (UTC)
Y'know how normally I'm a little strange? Well, right now I'm A LOT strange. I wish you could have been there last night to listen to rhylar and I packing. We were awfully punchy, and the level of weirdness would have amused you highly.

(Oh, and I finally finished counting all the semicolons last week. I did it because a. once I finished I could pack the book, and b. I had nothing else to read, since all my books were packed. This "moving" thing sucks; I can see why you don't want to do it again any time soon.)
Max Kaehn: Cleoslothman on August 22nd, 2004 11:20 pm (UTC)
Is there a style guide that makes a recommendation on the frequency of use of semicolons? I find I use them quite often; it’s a an ingrained habit.
Sandpanthersandpanther on August 23rd, 2004 09:28 pm (UTC)
I'll defer to the wisdom of Word Nerd (aka llamabitchyo) on how much is too much on semicolons. In general, I think it depends on the style you are writing in. Older literary styles used semicolons a good deal more than modern writers usually do.

I think I care a lot more about semicolons BEING USED PROPERLY. "Silence; the black of night" sounds cool, but is in no way, shape or form grammatical.

(I also hate seeing stupid fangirls use them to make their writing look more literary. When the author can't spell or use grammar correctly, using semicolons tends to stick out like a punk rocker at an opera.)