Two elegant little dots, one poised precariously over the other, suspended and balanced and slightly portentous, together pleasingly symmetrical, ready to birth the following illustration or expansion: that’s my old friend the colon. But she’s gone now.
And now – now – in her place is that horizontally harsh dash – who has no elegance or balance or beauty. He’s just a harsh, informal line trying to do the job of my old literary friend. So . . . rest in peace, my friend.
Even worse my elegant and useful companion is suffering usurpation by a colon pretender: one who looks like my friend, but can’t do the job properly. For example:
There are a great many things wrong with modern writing and punctuation, such as: sentences that are too short and choppy, sloppy diction, and an unwarranted familiarity.
No, no, and again no. It should read this way:
There are a great many things wrong with modern writing and punctuation: sentences that are too short and choppy, sloppy diction, and an unwarranted familiarity.
Why? Because my friend the colon will do the job of the such as: there is no need for both. If you want to use such as, then leave my elegant friend alone. Do not try to pretend that she is this redundant pretender. Get thee behind me, imposter.
I’ll bet Mr. Blake, who could find a world in a grain of sand, could find a great deal in my friend’s two dots. But, alas, we’ll never know now.