Sunday, February 9, 2014

024, Commas

51 Has comma lost its utility value?
Topics for discussion: punctuation, comma, English grammar, American English, Oxford English


Opinion of Mr. John McWhorter, associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University. Click to go to the news:

Gist of his opinion:
Internet users, authors are becoming idiosyncratic/indifferent in use of punctuation.
Commas may have outstayed their welcome.
May not be loss of clarity, even if commas are not used in modern American texts.
A case may arise for not using commas at all.
These things (Oxford commas) are just fashions and conventions. They change over time.

This interview is very rich in its content.
An observation on Ms. Jane Austen not using many commas.
Punctuation going back to its historical role as a kind of musical notation tracking spoken language.

I suggest that the readers study the above interview to get a clear picture.

My personal views which I do not wish to impose on you

Purpose of using commas

Comma indicates a slight pause in a sentence. It separates words and phrases which when not separated may lead to an absurd/ambiguous/obnoxious interpretation.

Importance of goal of the particular communication

Legal-communications, Medical-communications, High-value business-communications, organisational both-horizontal-vertical hierarchial-communications need perfect clarity. Use of essential commas in such communications, becomes an imperative.

How the other person will view our taking liberties with punctuation

The end-users of our communications, are not going to be, we. Receivers have to decifer and interpret our messages. Such interpretations should lead to the actions we expect from them. We have to try to become user-friendly. Let us suppose that we are writing a Ph. D Thesis. We cannot expect our evaluators to work as wrestlers to interpret our thesis.

Levels of communications in an organisational hierarchy

Peer-to-peer communications (in the sense of communications among equals) may not need use of many commas, except in strategic peer-to-peer communications such as messages in air-traffic control. monitoring space-crafts and satellites.

Informal communications

We can dispense not only with commas, but also with many other punctuation marks and customs.

Probable Conclusion

Likely consequences arising from our messages, will decide the degree of punctuation marks, we have to use. No hard and fast rules can be made out. (To continue and to improve upon this).


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