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March 20, 2007

Whose comma?

Truss, Eats, Shoots and Leaves -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

"Why the problem? Why the scope for such differences of opinion? Aren't there rules for the comma, just as there are rules for the apostrophe?"

I was at a writing conference over the weekend and the question was asked, "Should grammar be taught?" There were a ton of answers but there was one that I thought of when I read this. A woman from Kent State University said, "No. Grammar should not be taught because who's to say what is proper?" She mentioned that in Japan, they have a panel of people who inform the country of the correct way to use the language and parts of the language. In America, we don't have that for English. What is the ONE correct way to teach grammar? There isn't an answer, and as a result, there is confusion.

On a totally different note, I have never thought about the origin of grammar. I really like how Truss mentions the history of punctuation marks. It totally makes sense that the comma came about from actors reading manuscripts. It told them when to pause. I thought that was really cool to think about.

Posted by CheraPupi at March 20, 2007 4:02 PM


I can kind of see what you're saying. But it's important to remember that not everyone is an English major. Not everyone will want, or even have, to work with the rules and come up with their own thing. What about those who do the bare minimum? They ARE out there!

Posted by: Chera Pupi at March 20, 2007 8:52 PM

It is sometimes confusing that there are so many different answers out there. When you think about it though, isn't this true with just about everything in life? I think that even though everyone would be spared much confusion if there was only one correct answer, it's almost better this way. Each individual can work with what rules are set and create his or her own style within those boundaries.

Posted by: Jennifer Prex at March 20, 2007 6:22 PM

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