I’m with Twod. The first sample is in the camp “I don’t get it ... so I want to ban it”.
There’s great danger in thinking that different marks mean different lengths of pause. A magazine to which I subscribe obviously has an editor who believes that, as each edition contains a good dozen errors of this type:
“German manufacturer, Knaus, has announced four new models ...” and “Company spokesman, Robert Melling, confirmed that ...”
Regarding the examples you gave, my paper (i.e. I) would dispense with those bracketing commas to give this:
“German manufacturer Knaus has announced four new models ...” and “Company spokesman Robert Melling confirmed that ...”
but would render them thus if the order were reversed and an article were present:
“Knaus, the German manufacturer, has announced four new models ...” and “Robert Melling, the company spokesman, confirmed that ...”
I once tried reading Vonnegut but found him not to my taste, so I'm quite unlikely to take his opinion on semicolons seriously. OTOH, I respect David Crystal – even though I sometimes disagree with his dicta.
"STYLE is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn." — Gore Vidal "STYLE is knowing what sort of play you're in." — Sir John Gielgud
Idly, while scoffing some lunch, I re-read the first of Vv’s linked articles.
Two thoughts arose: If the semicolon is so unnecessary, what’s that comma doing in the title? And is a semicolon actually part of “grammar”? (I’d say not, as all of grammar is already involved in spoken language - or am I out on a personal limb, there?)
The author gets lost between the concepts of “it doesn’t mean kill” and “it doesn’t mean one tenth” - giving examples of the former doesn’t support the latter! His edited-by-Dickens example actually emphasises the one-tenth meaning.
I know that decimate is often used where devastate would work, but I try to keep away from doing that. I’m perfectly happy, though, to involve crops or houses or profits, rather than soldiers, in what is being reduced by one tenth.
Post by Little Jack Horner on Sept 3, 2019 15:30:10 GMT
Decimate. It’s difficult to know what to think about this. Most regular visitors to this forum know perfectly well the Roman military origins of the word and historians of the Roman period will know so too and will not be confused by those who use the word to mean catastrophic loss of life. Decimation, in the historical sense, has been rare since classical times; a search through Google provides only half a dozen possible examples. No-one is likely to misunderstand the meaning of a report of the decimation of a population as a result of a natural tragedy.
Most of will agree, and even welcome the phenomenon, that languages evolve and will be able to discover many examples of words that have acquired new meanings over the centuries. To resist acceptance of the “new” meaning of decimate is to try to reverse an occurrence that has already occurred and is doomed to failure. Most dictionaries now give priority to the new meaning and we pedants can only use “better” alternatives in our own usage — and, perhaps, devote our energy to protecting the semicolon.
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."