Saturday, October 8, 2011

Colonoscopy? (or, another look at the colon)

If you remember last year (I hardly do), I wrote a little article entitled "Against the Titular Colon."  Read it, if you would like to continue reading this with some knowledge of my particular anti-colon arguments.

(Sorry for telling you to go read it.  If you read blogs on shit like this, you've probably already clicked the link.  Can you tell I've been teaching freshmen?  Can you tell they don't do their readings?)

Well, I received one of the nicest blog-related emails I've ever had the pleasure of reading from one Vivian R. of the American Musicological Society.  According to Vivian, a "major newspaper arts critic excerpted about 35 paper titles from our forthcoming national meeting program and published them without the post-colonial  (i.e., intelligible) portions."  In other words, only the part of the title that came before the colon (what would be the "real" title of, say, a book with a subtitle) was printed.  Can you imagine?!  This colonic oversight led to a firestorm on the AML listserv discussion. (Yes, apparently those are still a thing.) Wow!

But really, what do colon-dependent paper writers expect?  Why would someone write a pre-colonial gibberish title?  The part after the colon should illuminate, not be the final result of some colonic process. Writers should not expect the colon to fix their bad titles by digesting them. You put in crap you get out crap.


So it doesn't magically make your title good.  And, if you already have a good title (the "post-colonial," "intelligible" bit -- it sounds like some of AML's truncated titles must have been good before the critic chopped them), don't cheapen it by putting it on the back end of a colon!  You know what's on the back end of a colon, right?

First, I have to give Vivian major props for that colon pun.  Post-colonial!  Ha!  Most colon jokes (and most of my colon jokes) tend toward the scatological.

Next, I have to thank Vivian for sharing me with the AML listserv.  She forwarded my humble blog article, offered up as an end to the discussion: "This should settle for all time what a proper title should look like," she tells the list.  Thank you Vivian.

Hear that? (Read that?) No more colons, because I said so.

Last, I have to excerpt here Vivian's discussion on why we should try not to make so many poop-related colon jokes.  She did some nice etymological detective work for the list:

"Bad puns invoking medical procedures and body-parts abound. The most interesting was "colotomic structure" [...] The medical definition of "colotomy" is an incision into the colon. "Stoma" is not the removal of an organ, but the creation of an artificial "mouth" to take over the function of the organ altered or removed. Thus, all the "colostomy" jokes about punctuation are misguided."

Darn! Oh well.  I was just about to make another one.

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