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In Semicolon, Cecelia Watson charts the rise and fall of this infamous punctuation mark, which for years was the trendiest one in the world of letters. But in the nineteenth century, as grammar books became all the rage, the rules of how we use language became both stricter and more confusing, with the semicolon a prime example. Taking us on a lively journey through a range of evidence--from Milton's manuscripts to Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" to Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep--Watson reveals how traditional grammar rules make us less successful at communicating with each other than we might think. Even the most die-hard grammar fanatics would be better served by tossing the rule books and learning a better way to engage with language.