Why Punctuation is Everything

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by S.A.M., Aug 6, 2007.

  1. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Yeah, thats the joke

    Eats, shoots and leaves.

    vs

    Eats shoots and leaves.

    Haha?
     
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  3. Nasor Valued Senior Member

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    I think his point is that since everyone knows that pandas don't shoot guns, no reasonable person would ever actually make the mistake of interpreting that sentence as saying that the panda ate, shot a gun, and then left. Therefore the punctuation really isn't necessary.
     
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  5. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    In that case perhaps, but a lack of attention to punctuation could turn costly.

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    http://shrewdnessofapes.blogspot.com/2006/08/see-i-told-you-punctuation-matters.html

     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2007
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  7. leopold Valued Senior Member

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    you would not believe the nonsense i had to put up with when i first came to this board, over punctuation.

    i now give a decent attempt to punctuate my sentences, but ah, i still need to CAPATOLIZE (man, don't start) certain words.
     
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Yes.
    This is simply incorrect. "John has missed the point," is a direct quote and must be enclosed in quotation marks. In speech we use tone of voice and other dynamics to distinguish between the sentences:
    • William said I'm an idiot for turning down a date with your brother.
    • William said, "I'm an idiot for turning down a date with your brother."
    In writing we don't have those oral tools so we have to use quotation marks. Yes, I understand that in the example posted about John and Oli there's not much room for misunderstanding. Nonetheless we have to be consistent in our punctuation or reading becomes less intuitive and it slows everybody down.
    You're thinking of koalas, which are marsupials. They live in Australia where eucalyptus grows. Pandas live in China and eat bamboo. Pandas are indeed ursids (members of the bear family) but this was not known for certain until quite recently, through DNA analysis. When I was a kid the possibility was accepted that they might be members of the raccoon family.
    Capitalization is a form of punctuation and it is one of the most important forms. Capital letters are the most visible signals that help us parse sentences. They are far bigger than periods and therefore are a stronger signal that a new sentence is starting.

    Every language using the Roman alphabet (or a related one like Greek or Cyrillic) has its own conventions for capitalization. In German, with its complicated grammar, nested subordinate clauses and mile-long sentences, all nouns are capitalized. This helps identify the key words in the sentence without the nuances of speech. Most languages don't capitalize words derived from the names of countries like americano. English as usual takes its own unique path and capitalizes "French wine," but not "french fries." Egotists that we are, we capitalize the pronoun "I," when so many other languages politely capitalize "you."

    But all languages that have capital letters use them for the first word of the sentence. It is neither difficult to learn nor time-consuming to do. Just locate the SHIFT key on your computer and practice with it for a few minutes. You can hit it with the opposite hand from the one that's typing the letter so it doesn't slow you down. It is a highly appreciated courtesy to the reader, much more so than proofreading one's own work and correcting the occasional (and original) spelling error such as "capatolize."

    If you can navigate all the ridiculous menus in commercial software that require you to hit Function keys while holding down CONTROL or COMMAND (and Macintoshes have only one of each, on the left hand), you have the ability to learn to use the SHIFT KEY.

    BTW, of all the subforums on this website, you picked the wrong place to call anything related to proper language "nonsense."

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  9. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

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    Wahey - I'm outdated: (although I will check my copy of Oxford English Use and Abuse).
    The one I was taught (and it was regarding punctuation) was:

    "The pupil said the teacher is a fool", which, punctuated gave, "the pupil, said the teacher, is a fool".

    Old-style grammar school - nobody uses the old ways any more :bawl:

    Umm. addition. I just googled and English as spoken/ used by the English (and taught as a second language) does do it:

    No quote marks.
    Maybe a difference between English and American English?

    From:
    http://english.unitecnology.ac.nz/resources/resources/exp_lang/speech.html
    An resource for English teachers (from New Zealand by the .nz. address!).
     
  10. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    I have to agree with Oli here, that's how we learned it too. Our grammar bible was Wren and Martin; its an excellent comprehensive resource for the intricacies of English grammar and composition.

    Not so easy to get online, it would seem, though its standard for Indian schools

    http://www.amazon.com/High-School-English-Grammar-Composition/dp/8121904005
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2007
  11. Enmos Staff Member

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    Yes, but isnt that like... missing the point ?

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  12. leopold Valued Senior Member

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    a bit touchy about your forum ay?
    anyway, capitalization, for me, is more of a pain than, say, commas and apostrophes. at least i know how to break up a sentence to convey the meaning.
     
  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    No, it's just a confusing principle to explain. That is obviously an indirect quote! If it were a direct quote, it would be

    She said, "I watch TV every day."

    It would be in the first person, it would be in the present tense, and it would have quotation marks.

    And the punctuation is vital to understanding. If you write...

    She said I watch TV every day.

    ...then she is talking about your habits, not hers.
    Well sure. The "New Moderator Syndrome."

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    But this is indeed where people come to discuss language seriously, and people who discuss language seriously aren't likely to think that any of its fine points are nonsense. To walk in and say so is not the best way to introduce oneself to the community.
     
  14. shorty_37 Go! Canada Go! Registered Senior Member

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    What bothers me more than punctuation is BAD SPELLING.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2007
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    They're both evidence of the same lack of respect for civilization. They announce to the world that you were out getting stoned or playing videogames while the other kids were paying attention in school.
     
  16. shorty_37 Go! Canada Go! Registered Senior Member

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    you forgot to mention having sex:bugeye:
     
  17. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

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    Ahem... "than", not "then".

    Sorry, I HAD to!

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  18. shorty_37 Go! Canada Go! Registered Senior Member

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    remind me not to post in this thread anymore....lol
     
  19. allisone417 i'll be in my room Registered Senior Member

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    lols
     
  20. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

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    Nope: example of reported speech

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    Apologies for not posting the link I got it from, and I can't find it now (busy at work).

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  21. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I'm not sure what the difference is between "reported speech" and "indirect quotation," except perhaps that one is a subset of the other. My primitive high school in the Wild West didn't go into such subtleties fifty years ago because they concentrated on teaching us how to protect ourselves from stampeding buffalo and ornery Injuns. Nonetheless, in both cases quotation marks are not only inappropriate but incorrect, because:
    • They are not a faithful word-for-word transcription of what the speaker said.
    • They change the meaning of the sentence.
    In cases where both of these conditions are satisfied, quotation marks may be optional, although other conditions also apply such as not using the conjunction "that."
     
  22. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

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    Apologies: I misread your previous post as suggesting that reported speech SHOULD have quotes around it (my fault - hectic time at work).
     
  23. Nasor Valued Senior Member

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    Well, the entire point of that sentence is that it’s supposed to be an example of why punctuation is necessary – but clearly in that particular example punctuation isn’t actually necessary.
     

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