Thursday, September 10, 2009

Comma sense.

I can't take it anymore. Something just has to be said.

It's no secret that I am Grammar Girl. In this internet age, grammar has gone completely out the window. And you pretty much have to live with it. The kiddies are all typing in abbreviations and acronyms. Smiley faces and double, triple, sometimes quadruple exclamation points are everywhere. Even I over-do the smiley faces from time to time, but mostly because the tone of written word is sometimes hard to translate and I want to make sure people know when I am kidding around. But there's a new phenomenon that I have recently been smacked in the face with, and it is seriously driving me crazy.

Over punctuation.

Yes, that's right. Using punctuation TOO MUCH. Specifically? The comma.

A comma separates lists, adjectives, and phrases in a sentence. The comma is actually quite a versatile mark, if you want to get all technical about it. You can Google "comma" and come up with pages and pages of information on how to properly use it. That's not why I'm here. I'm here to tell you how NOT to use it.

When I (and everyone else with at least a modicum of education) read a sentence that has a comma in it, I pause. Briefly, but definitely. So when I read a sentence wherein there are way too many commas, I am pausing all over the place and for completely inappropriate reasons and it makes my head want to spin right off of my neck and shoulders. I am almost shaking as I write this, that's how bad it bothers me.

Here's an example (and though it's not verbatim from the passages I have been recently subjected to, it's not an exaggeration either): I have to go, get some milk, at, the supermarket. Read that. Tell me you aren't pausing when you see those commas. Read it out loud and tell me you don't sound a little bit like Captain Kirk.

Now imagine that kind of an example in paragraph after paragraph of text, and imagine that you HAVE to read it. Tell me it doesn't hurt your head. I tried (honestly, I did) to just NOT SEE the commas so I could absorb the content, but it was really hard and I ended up just getting more and more frustrated with challenging my brain to re-think EVERYTHING I HAD EVER BEEN TAUGHT to read what might have actually been interesting material, had it just been grammatically correct.

Here's the thing - I don't care if punctuation and grammar are not your gig. I really don't. We all have skills and maybe the fact that I am pretty good with grammar than I am at other things probably doesn't make me the better person. I have plenty of friends who don't get all anal about their spelling or grammar, and THAT I am absolutely okay with.

I am NOT okay with the people that I know who think that they are superior human beings and then type out this crap, present it to me, and make me go absolutely bat shit just by reading it. It's one thing to know and not care that your grammar could be better; it's an entirely other thing to believe, sincerely, that you are smarter than 98% of EVERYONE ELSE ON THE PLANET and then type a 25 word sentence using 32 commas. You think I'm nuts. I've seen it. I have LITERALLY seen TWO COMMAS NEXT TO EACH OTHER in a sentence. Maybe it was a typo, I don't know, maybe he has a lazy right pinkie. But dear Jesus, proofread your shit before you eagerly beg me to read it. Because if you know me AT ALL, or better yet, even CARE to know me at all, you will know that those commas are making me crazy. He doesn't even speak that way, outloud, which is the way that I write. Which of course makes me even crazier.

I'll end this now, because I have to go to work, by saying this to you. You who do not read this blog, but should, and even if you did, you probably wouldn't see that it is you I am talking about*: All those commas do not add depth or drama to your writing. All those commas make even an average reader want to just close the window and fake like you read the whole thing. They make you, the writer, look like a complete tool. And stupid. You look stupid. And everything you write in the future is just drivel to me.

Okay then. I had to get it off my chest and I feel a little bit better now. Just a little bit.
*Even Grammar Girl could be getting this sentence wrong. But at least I know it.


At 11:13 AM, September 10, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am with you. I correct everyone, to their dismay I am sure. How about apostrophes? "APPLE'S ARE ON SALE TODAY!" Really? Put the book back in it's place! Really? It drives me MAD. My coworker said to me, "don't think you're better just because my grammar is bad". To which I replied, "don't you mean POOR?". Becky H

At 11:14 AM, September 10, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, I actually saw the "APPLE'S" think on the Lamb's Thriftway sign. Ugh. Becky H

At 6:22 PM, September 10, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

MFCS,I still like them.

At 7:56 PM, September 10, 2009, Blogger JJ said...

I hear you, Becky. There is nothing worse than seeing poor spelling and/or grammar on professionally made signs. It's like nobody cares anymore. I should send you this stuff I had to read. Seriously, you will go right over the edge with me.

And Pat, just because you like something doesn't mean you have to sprinkle liberally.

P.S. Whitney is the only one who caught my own grammatical error (and said something about it), but I fixed it. I'm such a tool.

At 8:49 AM, September 12, 2009, Anonymous Jackie said...

This cracked me up. You are so right that those extra commas cause me to pause when reading. My big thing is spelling. We all can make a spelling error but have some people not heard of spell check? My biggest pet peeve is when find miss spelled words on my company’s internal website.

At 12:37 AM, September 14, 2009, Blogger My Way said...

I, think that, I should, totally,,!!,, stop, using the, commas! You,re right!!


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