Tuesday, October 23, 2012

On the Em Dash

And now for something completely different. See link below.

This afternoon I was happy to accidentally run across an article in the New York Times about an issue near and dear to my heart – one with strong implications for writing with clarity, emphasis and style – the long forgotten, but mighty Em Dash.* I am not talking about the hyphen.**

I have long preferred the old-style usage of the Em Dash to the lowly comma. The Em Dash profitably draws attention to key parenthetical statements which modify the main idea at hand. This usage allows for concurrent thoughts being melded together as one into a complex blend of related ideas. This method is preferable (when it is preferable) to putting the parenthetical statement into a following stand-alone sentence. Or using parentheses themselves.

Ah. Freedom of choice! Freedom of expression! Freedom from confining, unprofitable, arbitrary rules!***

Glad to know that the New York Times addresses the interesting -- if not important -- issues of the day. I am not being sarcastic.

* (–)

** (-)

*** (Perhaps they will next delve into the hated exclamation point!)