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Semicolons, Nuance, and Contract Law


Everyone has a punctuation bugaboo; mine is the semicolon*. So I liked this post at Adams Drafting:

Excerpt: “Perhaps because they’re aware that I’ve had occasion to consider punctuation, some readers contacted me about the February 18 New York Times article about use of a semicolon in a New York City Transit subway placard….

And more generally, semicolons are creatures of nuance—less than a period, more than a comma. A contract isn’t the place for nuance.

But fans of semicolons shouldn’t despair: even with the limited use I put them to, my contracts still end up containing quite a few of them.”
(Full post, here.)

*Though Victor Borge’s “Phonetic Punctuation” routine could make anyone laugh about punctuation.

(From Portland, Oregon: And then there is the Trimet PGE Park eastbound MAX station, where you can sit on semicolons and other punctuation. Whenever I alight from the train, it’s always right at the semicolon; it’s a mystery.]

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2 responses to “Semicolons, Nuance, and Contract Law”

  1. atul666 says:

    A few years ago, Trimet posted a sign aboard its MAX cars that read something like “Information gladly given; however, please don’t disturb operator while train is in motion.”

    Sadly, more recent versions of the sign simply read “Don’t disturb operator while train is in motion”.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Semi-colons aside, even sadder than that was the response I got when I buzzed the operator while we were sitting, and sitting, and sitting (all MAX riders know that one) … his reponse was a terse, “that button is to be used only in emergencies.” I sigh; you sigh; we all sigh at Trimet. (A double semi-colon! 🙂

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