Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Flaming torches even better

The Daily Express which resembles The Daily Mail but without the necessary hormone treatment has launched a campaign in defence of the incandescent light bulb. In insisting our living-rooms should be lit the same way granny’s was, it snits the government for promoting low-energy bulbs.

Injudiciously the paper quotes technical rather than sentimental reasons, all three of which are wrong. Even incompatibility with dimmer switches has been resolved.

This is said to be little-c conservatism. Were tears shed when outdoor lavs were brought indoors and hundreds of night-soil men were put out of business? Is there always someone who regrets change, however beneficial? Certainly there was when capital punishment was halted. In fact much of that regret is still sharp and ripe.

Such tendencies must make growing older even more of a penance.

(a) Semi-colon or comma? (b) Semi-colon or full stop?
Eclogues 76a and 76b. (a) Not an option; the comma divides linked items while the semi-colon separates ideas/concepts. (b) For me the judgement is aesthetic since you could, at a pinch, use either. Choosing depends on rhythm and assonance as much as on sense. Do you prefer two complete sentences, or a longer, subtly linked one? Listen to your ear and/or your noggin
Note 1. My formal instruction in English ended when I was 15.
Note 2. I have raised this thorny subject in response to a request from Relucent Reader to whom I owe a debt of gratitude.
Note 3. Eclogue. Wrong again.


Relucent Reader said...

Thank you for the semi-colon eclogue, wrong or no.
The clear and concise comment was not meant to incur debt, but thank you.

As to people complaining about change, Will Rogers said, "Some people would complain even if you hung them with new rope."

Sir Hugh said...

Going back to your “eclogue” about tweaking clich├ęs here is one that has stuck in my memory for a long time taken from Wainwright’s Pennine Way Companion. It relates to one’s hopeful arrival at Byrness: the last staging post before the final twenty miles across the remote, weatherswept, lonely and sombre Cheviot hills, from which there is no reasonable escape if one wants to abort. Wainwright says “Gird up your loins as they have never been girded up before”.

Do I detect a mayfly of literature struggling to escape from the larva of science in your blog? As a newcomer to blogging I now realise that a blog’s content is not necessarily controlled by the blogger, and it seems quite possible for the contributors to take over. The blogger does not have the ability for immediate censorship of comments. The only resort if disapproving, is either to censor as soon as possible or refuse to comment and continue with his or her own agenda.
Yes I know “weatherswept” should be two words, but I like it that way.

Barrett Bonden said...

RR: Just joking about indebtedness. To tell the truth I'm more in debt to you regarding your last post (about your Dad) in which telling facts rather than mere sentiment conspired to move me.

Waking up with a start at 4.30 am I realised I'd only done half a job on the semi-colon. I now need to provide examples where I think (and I do believe it is a personal matter, to some extent) the semi is to be preferred over the period.

Sir Hugh: In my own blog I try to impose some self-discipline by relating what I write to the material world. However, the treatment may be as literary as Virginia Woolf in clogs. When I comment on other blogs there is no such restraint and I notice an unhealthy tendency for such comments to get longer and longer. Lord preserve me from grandiloquence.

Plutarch said...

Colons do have a clearly defined purpose in introducing reported speech, or a list. Semi-colons appeal to some more than others. I can't remember which American author or journalist refused to contenance them. I think that you probably agree with me that they are helpful in establishing a desired rhythm. Most important, as all punctuation should, they help the reader to follow a sometimes complex line of thought. Sometimes, one supposes that semi- colons like colons can benefit from irrigation.