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My Frenemies, the colon (:) and semicolon (;)

My Frenemies, the colon (:) and semicolon (;)

This is a repost from my lost Posterous blog


One of the most powerful and frustrating pieces of punctuation in my life is the colon (:) and semicolon (;), especially how it relates to haiku. For example, take this haiku (without punctuation below) I’ve been playing with lately:

361 points
I still defeat
myself

Now I could write it like this:

361 points:
I still defeat
myself

The colon in this case could possibly be used in the segmental case, or to define the 361 points. The I still defeat myself” is the definition of 361 points. Which, in keeping with the philosophy of Go, is very true - you do defeat yourself. Likewise, I could write the haiku with a semicolon like this this:

361 points;
I still defeat
myself

Writing it with the semicolon changes the whole meaning and flow of the haiku, in this case the semicolon joins two independent clauses together. In the first sentence I make the statement of 361 points,” and then join the other statement of I still defeat / myself” to it to bring meaning to these two separate clauses. However, I think this version feels a bit weak when compared to the affirmative colon version above.

Which one to use? I haven’t decided yet. I might just go with:

361 points -
I still defeat
myself

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