1. Jowettc
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    Jowettc Contributing Member

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    A question of grammar

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Jowettc, Jan 27, 2012.

    In a new short story one of mine, of the main characters speaks French with English as a second language. As a result his English grammar tends to be 'pigeon' if you get what I mean?

    In one of his dialogues he uses the phrase, "...for the sea; she is a cruel mistress sometimes!"

    Now, I'm using a semi-colon here but is that the correct style of punctuation? Would a comma, or a dash work equally well?
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    A semicolon is correct. A dash would be fine. A comma would, IMO, be incorrect. I see commas used like this quite frequently in published books, but I tend to assume that they're explained by Americans having a terror of semicolons.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The term for a simplified, blended language like that is a pidgin.

    A semicolon is not appropriate in the above dialogie fragment. You should use a comma.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was going to ask why a semicolon was incorrect, and realized I've probably misunderstood the example. I thought that the example was cutting off a complete initial sentence because it wasn't relevant to the question, but that in the original work it would be a complete sentence. That is, I was thinking of something like:

    "I'll do anything for the sea; she is a cruel mistress sometimes!"

    Is the entire thought instead,

    "For the sea, she is a cruel mistress sometimes!"

    In that case, yep, I was wrong about the semicolon.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, i agree... should be a comma... or nothing, for those who are comma minimalists...
     

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