just, wondering

This is one for all you bloggers, teachers, story tellers and  preachers.

Do you find that the business of writing texts that are designed to be read on screen or aloud wreaks havoc with your punctuation?

I’ve been aware for a while now that I am using more commas than I used to.  I usually blame it on getting confused between American and British punctuation.  But today, I printed out a document that I had read at least six times on my computer screen, and then had to print it out again after deleting a dozen commas.

One-who-shall-remain-nameless used to collect extraneous apostrophes in the letters he received and send them back to the author.  Perhaps I need to set you all a game of gathering up unhelpful commas to see if I can stop this habit it its tracks.

13 thoughts on “just, wondering”

  1. It might account for the Victorians using many, many more commas – they read aloud a lot. I do prefer an over punctuated text to an under punctuated one – both to write and to read.

  2. I suppose it is because I sing, however part of the reason why I add commas is to indicate when to pause to take breath so that sentence is broken up into sensible sections which make sense.

  3. I was encouraged from an early age by my father to use as few commas as was consistent with ease of comprehension. It may, however, make you feel better to know that Dylan Thomas found it hard to spell when typing.
    An afterthought: I think blogging and mailing have the effect of making me over-use the dash as a form of punctuation – something to do with replicating the faint randomness of speech?

  4. Yes!
    I’m with Chris; the dash is my punctuation weakness of choice. And also lots of sentence fragments. I do find that it leaks into my academic writing. I also go through drafts deleting myriad dashes.

  5. Poets and Americans can get away with dashes claiming affinity with Dickinson.

    Elizabeth — isn’t the dash necessary in your academic given your field? (we are back to apaphasis again).

    Stewart: weren’t you clever to give Chris a comma to pick on? Still, the rule of this particular game is ‘gathering up my extraneous commas’.

  6. Kimberly, is your game like pick up sticks, requiring dexterity and concentration?

    Yes – the dash is oh-so-necessary in my world. However, I take shameless advantage.

  7. I certainly find I pepper the text with commas and semi colons as breathing marks – but I also spell reeks as wreaks in this context. Reeks is what my pipe does!

    PS I am a pedant! 🙂

  8. I find I use both different words and different punctuation styles depending on if im writing something thats meant to be read like an essay or something, or if im writing something im planning to say out loud like a sermon or some kind of meditation – I add punctuation to suit when I want to take a breath or pause in the latter situation, whereas in the former, I like to think I follow grammatical rules (I probably don’t but the two styles are different!)

  9. Oh, I like to follow the grammatical rules too (though am a bit careless about which country’s rules I apply) — it’s just that I do so little ‘print writing’ now a-days, and so much ‘speech writing’ that the more formal style is slipping away.

  10. The American BCP punctuation drove me crazy until I finally resigned myself to the fact that it has its own grammatical rules, many of which seem to be designed with reading aloud in mind. (To be truthful, sometimes it still makes me nuts.)

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