Archive for the ‘The Writing Life’ Category

I Am a Human Comma

I love StumbleUpon. While it turns up a lot of inane (though still sometimes funny) gobbledygook, nearly just as often I come across something that makes me think. Robert J. Samuelson’s Newsweek article, “The Sad Fate of the Comma,” was one such thing. While punctuation articles don’t normally intrigue me–anyone who knows me and my writing knows that my understanding of grammar is more practical than academic–this one caught my eye because it was not only engaging and well-written, but a treatise on modern life. About the disappearance of the comma from today’s writing Samuelson said:

If all this involved only grammar, I might let it lie. But the comma’s sad fate is, I think, a metaphor for something larger: how we deal with the frantic, can’t-wait-a-minute nature of modern life. The comma is, after all, a small sign that flashes PAUSE. It tells the reader to slow down, think a bit, and then move on. We don’t have time for that. No pauses allowed. In this sense, the comma’s fading popularity is also social commentary.



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