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Opening Arguments


Listen you grammar Nazis I don't need no stinkin' commas and even if I did I wouldn't let you know because who are you to tell me to slow down after all I am the one doing the writing not you and I should be able to determine my own punctuation and it's no big deal if we don't slow down these days that's what I say anyway because this is America where we get to do our own thing:

I have always liked commas, but I seem to be in a shrinking minority. The comma is in retreat, though it is not yet extinct. In text messages and e-mails, commas appear infrequently, and then often by accident (someone hits the wrong key). Even on the printed page, commas are dwindling. Many standard uses from my childhood (after, for example, an introductory prepositional phrase) have become optional or, worse, have been ditched.

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.

I don't, know. If punctuation, is going to be used as a metaphor,  for, modern life I think the fate of, the semicolon deserves at least as much commentary. A period is a full, dead stop. I'm done. No more now. A comma is a pause, yes, but a running, almost-out-of-breath pause. Slow down just a little, then zoom right on. The semicolon is the subtle one, the toughest one to figure out. I want a little more than a quick pause, but not quite a complete stop; I need something in between. The demise of the semicolon is the story of the day. We don't handle subtlety well; it's a Blue State-Red State thing.  

Posted in: All about me


Wed, 07/18/2007 - 9:47pm

I have taken to installing a little breathing room in my writings ...like this, by using the old triple period gambit.

Wed, 07/18/2007 - 9:51pm

I have taken to putting a little air in my writings ...like this, with the good old three period gambit.

Leo Morris
Thu, 07/19/2007 - 8:29am

Out . . . standing