Semicolon Extinction Looms – “It’s worse than we thought!”

Yes, it’s true folks. Within a few short years, semicolons will only exist in dusty old books found in zoos.

semicolons by yearcritically endangeredThe use of commas and exclamation points is also in decline, although em dashes hold their ground.

The outlook is not bleak for some forms of punctuation. The question mark is seeing an encouraging increase. Encouraging, that is, if you as a reader like being asked questions.

use of questions by year


least concern

Periods also flourish, resulting in the alarming unintended consequence of shorter sentences. Sentences themselves may be in peril, although they should survive in the wild into the 23rd century.

sentence length by year

In general, however, punctuation is on the rise. We all are concerned about species loss, but so long as keyboard provide sanctuary for semicolons, commas, and exclamation points, there is hope that these fragile species may some day recover.

all punctuation by year

Another concern to literary activists is the encroachment of “suddenly.” Elmore Leonard has spoken out in favor of the eradicating this invasive word. As it happens there is no such trend, at least not since 1840.

suddenly by year

I have personally been concerned that the style police, with their constant admonishment of “show don’t tell,” are creating a cultural shift away from exposition to dialogue. This does not seem to be the case.

dialogue use by year

Note:  For entertainment purposes only.