Wordsmith.org: the magic of words

Wordsmith Talk

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  

Page 1 of 2 1 2 >
Topic Options
#112022 - 09/13/03 07:49 PM Get to the point!
maverick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
From a link in a site Bill pointed to (with thanks, Doc):

Punctuation has the primary responsibility of contributing to the plainness of one's meaning. It has the secondary responsibility of being as invisible as possible, of not calling attention to itself.

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/721833.html

Ignoring his misuse of the word reduplication when he clearly means either duplication or replication, what do you think of all the issues raised by Paul Robinson?
(not just that represented in this brief quote)



Top
#112023 - 09/13/03 09:03 PM Re: Get to the point!
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
First, I'd say that this guy is, um, just a bit OTT. Witness:
What we must instill, I'm convinced, is an attitude toward punctuation, a set of feelings about both the process in general and the individual marks of punctuation. That set of feelings might be called a philosophy of punctuation.
(Agh--more philosophy! Dasrex, this is all your fault! )
...I have developed a set of emotional responses to individual marks of punctuation. ...
Let me now introduce my dramatis personae. First come the period and the comma. These are the only lovely marks of punctuation, and of the two the period is the lovelier, because ...

Sorry, but that was about enough for me to write the rest of the article off. I also wonder how punctuation can be informed: My punctuation is informed by two ideals: clarity and simplicity.
All of that notwithstanding, I do give him marks for: I say "a" philosophy, because I'm not yet so opinionated as to insist that everyone adopt my own.
He does clearly describe two approaches to using punctuation. One is by the rules. The other is one that his friend uses: to indicate through his punctuation how a sentence is supposed to sound. I confess that I do that here, fairly often; for ex. I'll put a comma that is grammatically incorrect, to indicate where I would pause verbally. (I often also add a hyphen (hi, Anna!) if I want to emphasize something.) And thus my punctuation, like his friend's, can be inconsistent. Which is better? Depends on the context, I reckon.



Top
#112024 - 09/13/03 11:23 PM Re: Get to the point!
sjmaxq Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/20/03
Posts: 3230
Loc: Te Ika a Maui
The other is one that his friend uses: to indicate through his punctuation how a sentence is supposed to sound. I confess that I do that here, fairly often; for ex.

I don't that fairly often here - I do it all the time here. I view this place as a written conversation, and so write in a manner that depicts spoken speech. Of course, it could just be that I'm nothing more than an SES.

_________________________
noho ora mai
http://maxqnzs.com/References.html

Top
#112025 - 09/14/03 08:57 AM Re: Get to the point!
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13799
Just for starters, I think that his overarching "philosophy", that of emotional response, reduces punctuation rules to a set of purely personal prejudices with a thin veneer of ex cathedra pronouncement.

In particular, his example of the comma rule quoted from Strunk and White, violates, in my eye, the rule of clarity and invisibility. That comma before the and is anything but invisible to me. In the rare cases that its absence introduces ambiguity the ambiguity can be resolved by a simple recasting of the list.

Finally, I'd like to thank him for actually quoting the rules about punctuation and quotation marks. Without the statement of those rules we would have had to guess at just what they were.


Top
#112026 - 09/14/03 03:44 PM Re: Get to the point!
belMarduk Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/28/00
Posts: 2891
Interpretation is key

rules about punctuation and quotation marks

Punctuation goes inside the quotation marks. I.e. Mary said, "I like you a lot!" This is the way I was taught in a course on basic editing practices at university.

He says there is some difference between England & U.S. practices. There may be but can't vouch for that.

I also use different writing techniques depending on the situation. Here, I write as if I am speaking. With business correspondence I stick to the rules.


Top
#112027 - 09/14/03 04:37 PM Re: Get to the point!
Wordwind Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
I agree with Faldage about the superfluous comma in a series--and this rule is now officially either/or in some style manuals in the states. I remember Rhubarb commenting once upon a time here -- or maybe somewhere else -- about my own use of the superfluous comma in a series and I explained that this was a holdover from my own instruction. Rhubarb commented that the extra comma in England would be categorically incorrect.

And since that time, I've come across at least one style manual in which I found the either/or ruling. So, not one to want to use superfluous commas, I'm trying to wean them out of my writing for exactly the reason Faldage mentions: they call attention to the rule and pull attention away from the text.

I disagreed with Robinson's views on the semicolon because there are times that the semicolon does precisely what you would want it to do: it divides up the text--two independent clauses--into two big chunks of intimately connected thought with a pause in between. Not a pause that is as much of a stop as a period, but a pause that let's you know something strongly connected is about to follow. On the other hand, I don't like semicolons used because a writer of short sentences is too lazy (or unknowledgeable) to combine the short ones into more fluid long ones. Short sentences have their uses, but an overabundance of very short sentences combined with semicolons can be annoying.

I am not tempted to write an essay in which I only use commas and periods, so I differ from Robinson. I like all kinds of punctuation because of the increase in provision of affecting both the musicality of writing and in increasing clarity. I agree that Robinson is anal, but I, too, like understanding better how punctuation affects communication. If I have a poor punctuation habit that causes my thoughts to be misinterpreted, I need to have that habit pointed out to me so that I will be understood. When I want to be understood.

I've saved the article--printed it out--and will probably use sections of it for my freshmen to look over. Thanks for posting the link here.


Top
#112028 - 09/14/03 05:09 PM Re: Get to the point!
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13799
Punctuation goes inside the quotation marks.

Story is that this rule was created in the days when a period (full stop) could be physically lost in a row of type if it were outside the closing quotation mark. Dunno if this is true or not; perhaps Pfranz could tell us. As far as I'm concerned the primary rule is that the punctuation goes inside the quotation marks if it is part of the quotation.

Did you say, "Punctuation goes inside the quotation marks?"
         Wrong

Did you say, "Punctuation goes inside the quotation marks"?
         Right


Top
#112029 - 09/14/03 06:17 PM Re: Get to the point!
maverick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
I agree with several of you that we all vary our practice according to medium. The degree of formality is likely to reflect a continuum from speech to the most formal cases of writing. This forum is clearly closer to “a written conversation” as my downsideup bro remarks.

I thought Paul Robinson’s argument was, taken all in all, quite attractive. He recognises the value of common rules as a foundation for clarity of communication. He also notes that this is of itself likely to prove inadequate, requiring a greater investment of care from writers in order to foster a style or (as Jackie hated!) a “philosophy” to underpin practice.

Robinson clearly identifies his own intuitive bent, being a legalistic rule-based tendency. He moves on to add that style is a personal response to the aesthetics of typography. After all, from what does Stunk & Bite derive its so-called rules if not an emotional or aesthetic response to language? Robinson states that “I recognize legitimate alternatives, and I'm quite aware that punctuation has a history.” This seems an honest recognition that style is a matter of codified aesthetics which change over time.

> Rhubarb commented that the extra comma in England would be categorically incorrect.
fwiw, M$ Word recognises no grammatical fault in either of these two statements when set to either UK or USA English:
I bought apples, oranges, pears, and bananas.
I bought apples, oranges, pears and bananas.
Personally, I do not get an uncomfortable feeling reading the former, but feel slightly rushed by the latter.

I too sometimes vary my punctuation by deliberately reflecting a desire to steer towards my intended 'voice', using it almost like a stage direction tool. However, I agree with him that “Periods and commas are lovely because they are simple. They force the writer to express his ideas directly […] By way of contrast, a colon can be used to smooth over a rough logical connection. […] Periods and commas, because of their very neutrality, make one an honest logician.” His clarity of expression is certainly making me reconsider my approach to punctuation. Since my style tends to an unfortunate prolixity, I admire his urging of clear structure. I accept his argument that clean punctuation reflects, and in turn helps enforce logical discipline in the structure of writing. Despite personally tending to overuse parenthetical clauses I agree that this habit often results from a failure to focus on a linear argument. I unreservedly agree with his strictures on footnotes.

So overall, I guess you could say I largely approve his arguments, and intend to use them to modify my own practice in formal writing.

Not here but!


Top
#112030 - 09/14/03 06:26 PM Re: Get to the point!
maverick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
> the punctuation goes inside the quotation marks if it is part of the quotation.

So do you add a full stop after the quote marks with a quoted question?

Mav asked Faldage if he would "add a full stop after the quote marks with a quoted question?".

He did this because he believes it marks the reductio ad absurdum of this apparently logical approach... "If only," he remarked quietly, "punctuation was that logical - I did not just speak a comma or a dash!"


Top
#112031 - 09/15/03 04:09 AM Re: Get to the point!
wsieber Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 1026
Loc: Switzerland
legalistic rule-based tendency - in other words: punctilious


Top
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >

Moderator:  Jackie 
Forum Stats
8712 Members
16 Forums
13800 Topics
214400 Posts

Max Online: 3341 @ 12/09/11 02:15 PM
Newest Members
EdithBraemar, sherilla, AnonAmos, Blanco14, Justin2007
8712 Registered Users
Who's Online
1 registered (jenny jenny), 32 Guests and 2 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Top Posters (30 Days)
Bazr 124
wofahulicodoc 95
endymion6 94
LukeJavan8 90
jenny jenny 61
A C Bowden 39
Tromboniator 8
Faldage 6
zmjezhd 2
olly 2
Top Posters
wwh 13858
Faldage 13799
Jackie 11609
tsuwm 10513
Buffalo Shrdlu 7210
AnnaStrophic 6511
Wordwind 6296
LukeJavan8 6291
of troy 5400
BranShea 5282

Disclaimer: Wordsmith.org is not responsible for views expressed on this site. Use of this forum is at your own risk and liability - you agree to hold Wordsmith.org and its associates harmless as a condition of using it.

Home | Today's Word | Yesterday's Word | Subscribe | FAQ | Archives | Search | Feedback
Wordsmith Talk | Wordsmith Chat

© 2014 Wordsmith