Semicolon?

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Rekkari
Posts: 57
Joined: Fri Aug 02, 2013 5:11 pm

Semicolon?

Post by Rekkari » Fri Mar 06, 2015 3:22 pm

I found this sentence in a Yle Uutiset Selkosuomeksi article:

Ogier johtaa rallin MM-sarjaa, hän on tällä hetkellä sarjan paras kuljettaja.

There are two independent clauses here and, at first glance, I think that a period would have made more sense. However, in the audio recording, the narrator doesn't lower his tone on the final syllable of the word sarja but keeps it level as he continues, with only the briefest of pauses, into the next clause with the word hän. So now I'm thinking that the proper punctuation for connecting these two closely related independent clauses is a semicolon:

Ogier johtaa rallin MM-sarjaa; hän on tällä hetkellä sarjan paras kuljettaja.

Or is the semicolon not used in Finnish like it is in English?



Semicolon?

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Jukka Aho
Posts: 5238
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2007 1:46 am
Location: Espoo, Finland

Re: Semicolon?

Post by Jukka Aho » Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:43 pm

Rekkari wrote:So now I'm thinking that the proper punctuation for connecting these two closely related independent clauses is a semicolon:

Ogier johtaa rallin MM-sarjaa; hän on tällä hetkellä sarjan paras kuljettaja.

Or is the semicolon not used in Finnish like it is in English?
Replacing the comma with a semicolon, as you suggest, seems to work better here. The original comma feels a bit too “weak”˔

It is somewhat a matter of the writer’s personal style and the reader’s eye for such things, of course. While the proper usage of the semicolon is not hard to master, it is often thought of as being an “advanced” device for “advanced” writers, or simply ignored by the general public who are not professional writers — probably because they’re afraid they might be using it wrong or maybe perceiving it as “too snobby” for casual writing.

But since your example was an excerpt from a plain language news article, it is always possible the semicolon was merely considered too confusing for the target audience, not being part of the (fairly restricted) stylistic repertoire usually employed for such texts.

Some guidelines and examples on the usage of the semicolon, or puolipiste, in Finnish texts:

http://webcgi.oulu.fi/oykk/abc/kielenhu ... uolipiste/
http://www.kotus.fi/index.phtml?s=2444
http://www.kielikello.fi/index.php?mid= ... 1&aid=1085

Sometimes the difference between the usage of the colon and the semicolon, in Finnish writing, is described as being that of providing further details or clarification (or a straightforward itemized list) vs. providing another viewpoint or side to the matter. The example in question might possibly fall in either category.
znark


Rekkari
Posts: 57
Joined: Fri Aug 02, 2013 5:11 pm

Re: Semicolon?

Post by Rekkari » Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:22 pm

Yeah, I kind of figured it might have something to do with keeping it simple for the target audience: Out of the 859 Yle Uutiset Selkosuomeksi articles I've collected to date (with 6401 sentences) the semicolon does not appear even once!

At least In the US, most people know what a semicolon is but few are actually comfortable with its proper usage. A comma is often used instead.

Excellent reply - thanks!


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