Friday, January 27, 2012

Comma Clash

Harold Ross, editor of the New Yorker, was notorious for carpet bombing the copy with commas. James Thurber fought valiantly for readability over correctness. But Ross was the boss. And the commas continued.

This is not to say that Thurber championed sloppy language. On the contrary, he said,
Precision of communication is important, more important than ever, in our era of hair-trigger balances, when a false, or misunderstood word may create as much disaster as a sudden thoughtless act.
Gracie Allen may have put it best, "Never place a period where God has placed a comma."

An ongoing discussion in LinkedIn's LinkEds & writers group: "Commas used in a series; has something changed?" has some members crying for a period. Enough already.

I offered my own humble opinion, but the battle rages on.

While many of us wish the Wicked Wolf would have spared Grandma and eaten Grammar, there is no denying the importance of proper punctuation. It is so important that the great Victor Borge invented a method of making speech as clear as writing by adding visual cues. He called it "Phonetic Punctuation."

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