Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bursting the Comma Splice Bubble

Say you ask The Prude, aware of her moderate-to-severe punctuation obsession, to proofread something.
Just for fun throw in a comma splice for her to correct. Her joy will be complete.
The Prude prides herself in her recognition of a commas splice, she will pounce on it and pop the little dot on top of the comma struggling to keep the two independent clauses together all by its fragile little self.
(Did you catch the comma splice above snuck in for dramatic effect?)
The Prude always took great pride in her mad comma-splice-identification skills.
And now her bubble has burst.
The bursters?
Mr. Strunk and Mr. White in a nasty little tome called The Elements of Style.
"A comma is preferable [to a semicolon] when the clauses are very short and alike in form, or when the tone of the sentence is easy and conversational."
What!!!!! What??????

And then, taking the Prude’s burst bubble and mopping it up with a microfiber cloth, Anne Klinck gloats:
“[The commas splice] is the error beloved of composition teachers--easy to identify, just what we need to separate the sheep from the goats. But is it as clear-cut as we tend to think?”
("Coming to Terms: Unravelling [sic] the Comma Splice." The English Journal, Mar. 1998)

Of COURSE it isn’t. Grammar has fallen victim to post-modern relativism. The Prude’s last vestiges of pride are being wrung down the drain of antiquated grammar absolutes.
And Ms. Klinck states that comma splices are ‘easy to identify’, thus reducing The Prude’s original bubble of comma splice identification satisfaction to the size of a blister.

Ah, the vicissitudes of syntax. Never fall in love with punctuation stipulations. They will, some day, be torn from your grasp and leave you with a useless handful of semicolons.


Suef said...

This is too cute. I never heard of a comma splice before. Dare I admit it? And I am sorry for your loss! This is very harsh for you!

Lori Lipsky said...

'Tis a great pity. The rules keep a-changing.

My sympathies to you for thou art severely tried!

And here comes a song on wings: "but if this ever changing world in which we live in makes you give in and cry..." McCartney

Abbie Grace said...

So, does this change the comma splice on my essay?

dljatj said...

Strunk and White also use very few commas. One of my children edited a paper according to Strunk and White, removing many commas (with a proofread by a professional writer) and the English teacher put every last one of them back in! Alas! If the professionals do not agree, what are we lay people to do?
Thanks for brightening my day with your humor!

Lori Lipsky said...

That's funny, Abbie!!

Joanie said...

Never could figure out the appropriate comma splice, sooo I can't grieve with you. Sorry!

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