Children's writing

What copy editing?

In two books I’ve read recently, I’ve come across what I believe is incorrect use of the semicolon. In both cases, the semicolon was used to link an independent clause with a dependent clause. Semicolons join two independent clauses (without a conjunction).

Now, I’m no grammar whiz (right, Shell?), but these caught my attention. Has this rule changed, too? I throw fits about the disuse of the serial comma, not to mention many other commas these days. One of the worst cases is when “like” is thrown into dialogue without being set off by parenthetical commas.

“It was like really cold.”

“It was, like, really cold.”

The former trips me up every ding-dong time, and, frankly, it ticks me off. I zip through the first sentence, “It was like really cold _____.” Like really cold what? Really cold bologna? Really cold piano keys?

Grammar seems to be a matter of opinion or a style choice these days. I beg to differ; sometimes rules are okay.

Or are these mistakes? I seem to notice a lot of typos, too. Most recently, “Ieana” instead of “Ileana” (a character’s name).

I’m not the only one to notice. I can’t say it any better, and I can’t provide any better examples, so you might as well read Roxanne’s copy-editing rant yourself.

4 replies »

  1. I was just thinking this morning about the fate of grammar- adults with PhDs saying “send it to Mary or I”. Language, written or spoken, is about communication and grammar is important to being understood. I’m with you, copy editing seems to have become a thing of the past and that is a great loss.

  2. I’m still thrown off by the rule change about the last comma in a list and no longer putting one in front of the “and”.

  3. Kat, that’s the serial comma (separating a series), and I will go to my grave insisting the one before the “and” is a good thing. Here’s my favorite example of why:

    Consider this as a book dedication

    “To my parents, Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II.”

    A comma before the “and” makes all the difference.

    So there, serial comma droppers.