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Sunday, 9 February 2014


Set of punctuation marks

Could we be we in danger of losing our comma forever?  And would you miss it if it disappeared?

 The humble comma could  be abolished 'without doing much damage,' according to an American professor of English talking in The Times newspaper today.

John McWhorter  from Columbia University argues that 'as internet users and even some authors become increasingly idiosyncratic .... in their use of this punctuation mark, it may have outstayed its welcome.' 

Commas, he says, could be taken  out of  modern American text citing the Oxford comma, inserted after the penultimate item in a list, as an example.   'There could even be a case made for not using commas at all'. 

I disagree. In England our language changes all the time, with new words being added and others falling into disuse, but  we can't  afford to let  punctuation go out of fashion.

Take this example from The Times article:  'Rachel Ray finds inspiration in cooking her family and her dog.'  In a world without commas, what sort of mother would Rachel be?

Today's generation has  dispensed of the letter 't' as in compu'er, wa'er and par'y. So, come on,  do we care enough to keep the comma? What do you think?


Francie...The Scented Cottage Studio said...

Sometimes, you just NEEED a comma.
Okay, let me be honest. My family moved a lot and it seemed I always missed punctuation, parts of a sentence etc. SO I really don't have a grasp of correct punctuation and grammatical usage. I'm fairly good with vocabulary though. That said, even I know you sometimes really need a comma. :) :) :)

Guernsey Girl said...

I'm so glad you agree with me, Francie. And I think you have a perfect grasp of punctuation. Here's to commas,,,,,