RE: Comma preferences

Subject: RE: Comma preferences
From: "Guru Kamath" <guru -at- bom5 -dot- vsnl -dot- net -dot- in>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 12:21:45 +0530

Hi all,

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , (read as comma, no comma, comma, no comma)

Megan said, quoting from Carolyn Rude's Technical Editing:

The book also says that even though we have a tendency to want to insert
commas where we pause or
"breathe" while reading a sentence, "punctuation is logical--not
biological!" :)

I laugh and ask:

I really love the biological bit and had a hearty laugh. I thought this
comma for a pause movement was Indian. We have this "breathing rule" where
we put a comma where we pause to breathe! I am so glad to note that this
condition is universal! I was therefore surprised when one of the best
contributors to this list (Geof Hart) defended this thumb rule. I am so
glad that we have Carolyn Rude on our side! (I am now dying to lay my hands
on this book!)By the way, does anyone know the origin of this, er,
biological "thumb rule" or what I regard as a "myth" or an "old rule"?

In my technical writing seminars I teach students to:

"When in doubt, leave it out."

I think I was taught this in my journalism classes to avoid libel. But I
think it equally applies to the use of commas. Of course, I have learnt to
use the comma rigorously -- thanks to studying hundreds of books on grammar,
punctuation, style, etc. I find this rule useful when editing the work of
others. Sometimes, "authors" sprinkle their text with commas and I have to
remove them by the bushel.

If there is anyone in this august list who thinks it is much ado about a
comma, I can only quote a famous author (Oscar Wilde?) -- I spent a whole
morning deciding whether to use a comma and then finally removed the comma,
and I spent the whole afternoon deciding to put it back! (Of couse, said in
my own inimitable email English!)

Have a great day comma everyone!

guru -at- bom5 -dot- vsnl -dot- net -dot- in

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