3.22.2011

On Punctuation and Food Poisoning

Mondays are always busy, between work and writing I always have a full day.  At work we're obliged to meet clinically with each patient, which can make for a long day.  Of course, Monday is also the day I write my weekly offering for Bell of Lost Souls.

It was a good one this week: check it out.

Anyway, yesterday the doctor was behind a bit so we were obliged to work through lunch.  I left to grab a quick bite at *edited so as not to get sued* and ate it at my desk.  "You ready, Doc?" says I, your favorite Empty Blue Digital Headache... at which point I felt a stab of pain deep in my guts.

It's often called food poisoning - it should be called Lord take me now!   Yup, it sucks harder than getting smacked around on a regular basis by Da Warboss Stalin, the Official Strictly Average Criticizer (the O-SAC).



So how is punctuation related?  It began with a reader on Bell discussing why I should have used the word Codices instead of Codexes.  It makes for an interesting conversation, but it was pretty much a dead topic by the time I saw it this afternoon... at home... after getting kicked out of work today for groaning too much.

The only way punctuation and food poisoning are related is I had diarrhea of the keyboard when I wrote a brief response to the original responder.  Since it relates to my philosophy on writing, I decided to drop it here.  Let me know what you think.

(So Yea, My Feelings Were Hurt!)

Hiya, Cavalier1864!

This conversation was already played out and done by the time I read it, so I don't want to stir the whole thing up again.  

I did want to let you know I made a deliberate decision in regards to 'Codexes' versus 'Codices,' and not because it was flagged by Word.  It wasn't, actually, and I've confirmed that just now.  I'm also aware what the standard plural word is.

No, I used the word deliberately, because I've seen GW use it in the past!  It stuck with me for the same reason you noticed it in this article, but I figured that was term they wanted to use and I'd use it.  No other reason. :)

I probably wouldn't have mentioned it at all, except your first sentence caught my attention.  You intimated there are a number of grammar errors - and I'll go ahead and admit that hurt!

Couldn't you have just called me a talentless hack then insulted my mother?  Honestly it would have bothered me less. :)

You obviously care about these issues, and I respect that.  I do too.  The written word is very important to me and I know the rules of punctuation.  The dropped commas and the overuse of ellipses, semi-colons, and dashes is a very deliberate style choice, and I do so because I believe it reads better.

We're all taught in grade school to pause at commas (which, by the way, is the most common misconception governing its use), and it's my belief we're trained to do so even when we're reading silently!  I like to keep the flow of a paragraph moving so I pull them where I can.

I put an example in that last sentence!  It would be correct to insert a comma and the word 'and,' but it's unnecessary.

This isn't a decision I made in perfect ignorance.  You're probably aware that, unlike French (which I studied in school... and that may explain some of my more unsavory habits) there is no central authority governing the English language.  That said, change happens; usually and most quickly through generations writing the way they speak.  To make a long example shorter, there is a movement in place now - and it's being taught in colleges across the county - to discard the overuse of the comma...

...and maybe remove some of the 350+ rules associated with it!

Anyway, I've gone on long enough, but since you showed the passion to comment I thought you deserved a serious response from the author.  I'm human, so of course I make mistakes, but I come about them honestly and not through ignorance or laziness.  

I appreciate your time, now and in the future.  :)

11 comments:

CounterFett said...

That is a perfectly serviceable response, and more courteous than I would have been. I am annoyed by grammar nazis, since they seem to think they are smarter than the object of their scorn simply by dint of the fact that they spotted something amiss in the written word. I think perhaps many of them are unaware of typing speed.

I make errors in my posts quite frequently, and when I catch them, I edit them out. On the other hand, I speak four languages, and sometimes the rules get a bit much, and I will discard a particular rule that is obstructive to what I am trying to say.

In other words...(ironic overuse of ellipses)...Go Brent!

Dave G _ Nplusplus said...

Grammar and spelling are important to me as well, and I too use commons, semicolons, line breaks, etc to create a style of writing that I also believe reads a certain way.

But language does evolve, and certain words just transform or end up with multiple uses.. especially in a hobby system, there's some creative leeway, and it only seems right to spell it like the authors do.

Von said...

The grammar nazi is naught but a grammarian who knows not their place, which is to describe, and not to prescribe.

See, I'm quite old-fashioned about commas; I'm very fond of them, and believe they serve as handholds on the great slabs of text I'm otherwise inclined to produce.

I also confess that I'm 'trained' in the fashion you describe, and read text which omits too many commas as a kind of breathless rush; to me, it doesn't 'flow' so much as 'gush past in a great incomprehensible torrent'.

There are layers of meaning which can arise from those rules of placement, and I sometimes like to play with them; I don't expect anyone to actually notice, but it's nice to do.

That said, I know I've dropped some in here too, because there's a point at which text is no longer clear, but rather an archaic mess of 'pauses'. The ultimate goal, for me, is clarity and restraint of my natural chattering tendencies; that means a few more commas than you tend to include, but a few less than is orthodox.

I'd never get up in someone else's grill about their comma use, though; not unless clarity and meaning are actually threatened by it.

Also, food poisoning sucks chodes, and you have my sympathy.

Da Warboss said...

I get a aimilar stabbing pain in my guts after I read your latest tripe.

Mistress of Minis said...

Well, let us rejoice in the abundant and expanding modern use of 'smart phones'!!

You see, these wonders of modern technology with wonderful(and often amusing) features like 'auto correct' may save this current generation of 'txt tards' (spelling and lack of capitalization on the proper noun is intentional!) and 'grammar goons'.

Rest easy knowing that out there is some code monkey thats a fervent believer in the sanctity of grammar. And they toil away countless hours in a little sweat shop like cave of knowledge, just to produce a working grammar checker!

Yes, thats right, now we can look forward to randomly placed punctuation courtesy of some algorithm that was previously a Cold War secret used to determine proper placement of sheep to yield maximum ability to absorb radiation from a nuclear blast!

Of course that won't be going to market until after the "Potty Pal" app makes it big. I mean, who doesnt need an app that tells them its time to go potty by showing them a toilet icon- then guiding them to the nearest proper facility via GPS! It even will make sure you find one of proper rating, and connect you with other Potty Pals in the area- just in case you need to text one of them to pass you some TP under the door!

So, worry not my fellow Grammarians. Smart phones will save us, by doing the thinking for those that are unable to do so for themselves! To an extent anyway, I doubt any device will ever be able to fully compensate for human stupidity!

Carlos said...

WARBOSS!!! Where have you been I have missed you so much? Welcome back.

Cynthia Davis said...

If Da Warboss is ever bothering you- give the word. All I need is a carelessly unlocked window and he will bother you no more. No one loves you like I do, but you never acknowledge me...my thoughts be bloody.
Cynthia Davis

Gauthic said...

Why should something as simple as a lock stop anyone? :D

Da Warboss said...

Thank you, MMC. I posted a few weeks back, making fun of the cretin who runs by the nom de guerre The Professor and his shallow wit video doggerel. Alas, none here bother to read older comments.

Brent said...

Have no fear, Warboss - I emailed the comment to him. He got a kick out of it!

The_King_Elessar said...

I find it hilariously ironic that someone called 'Da Warboss' refers to a nom de guerre...

Dark Angels don't HAVE Warbosses...

In other news; I had a comment on my first 3++ article in reference to Codicii/Codexes just today. It made me lol, as I am not a Prescriptivist myself. When you experience degree-level English, they are desperate to beat that out of you as quickly as possible. It came as a little bit of a culture shock at first, but is much more reasonable and indeed efficient.

(A new favorite!) Anon: I haven’t even bothered playing a game of 6th yet, cause I have read the rules, and actually understand how they interact with units. I know my armies no longer function how they should, and so I need to change them.

Strictly Average: 'cause 6-inches is all you get.

Stalking Jawaballs since 2009.

Jawaballs: "My butt just tightened up."

Brent, preferred 2-to-1 over Not Brent in a recent, scientific poll.

Brent: emptied the Kool Aid and DRINKING YOUR MILKSHAKE with an extra-long straw.

Unicorns don't exist.

Home of the Stormbuster, the Dyson Pattern Storm Raven.

I'm a comment whore and this whore is getting no play.

Not Brent hurts Brent's feelings.

I think, therefore I blog.

"You should stop writing for everyone else and worry about your crappy blog." - Anon.

Not Brent has been spotted lurking around with a green marker.

He's not like a bad guy from a cartoon, all devious but never quite evil, Not Brent is bad beans, man, bad beans.

Dethtron: "Again I feel obliged to remind you that trying to sound smart only works if you are."

MVB: "I am not one to join the unwashed masses of self-titled 40k experts out there distributing advice from their blogs about exactly how your list should be built..."

Shiner Bock on tap: that's how I choose hotels.

Strictly Average: The Home of Hugs and Gropings.

Don't feed the trolls!

MoD: "Welcome to Brent's head."

Competitive is Consistent.

Dethtron: "...you could use that extra time to figure out a way to get your panties unbunched and perform a sandectomy on your vagina."

Dethtron: “When calling someone an idiot, it's generally best to avoid making grammatical mistakes.”

Warboss Stalin: "You know, if it actually WAS funny, maybe I wouldn't mind."

Mike Brandt: "It's not a successful bachelor party if you don't misplace someone".

"The Master Manipulator (every store needs one): "...now, enough stroking."

Kirby: "I don't know about gropings. Seriously, Brent, keep it in the pants, please."

Loquacious: "No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get Hugs & Gropings or Stalks Jawaballs into Brent's little tribute."

Captain Kellen: "I rate this article a Brent on the Faith Hill to Nancy Pelosi scale!"

Drathmere: "Come for the balls, stay for the Brent? Kind of disturbing, man."

Go no further, lest thee see something thine eyes would fain look past!

Isabelle: "So, thank you for supporting your local and not so local unicorns. A noble gesture like that can show some scared kids out there that they don't have to hide from everyone and it's ok to be who they really are."

There is nothing more interesting than We The People... in all our beautiful, ugly glory!

On Internet Advice: You see, I have an almost religious belief that's it's a huge, colossal waste of time.

...I think I'll call it the Gun Shy Pattern Stormbuster, because after the Internet destroyed my first humble effort, I find I'm a bit worried about the reaction to this one.

Lauby: "Is it left over from that time you thought that you could just complete step one 12 times to meet the mandates of that court order?"

Not Brent: "I guess we'll have to read on and find out. Signed, Not Brent. Especially today."

Cynthia Davis: "I think the scrolling text is from Glen Beck's new book."

Grimaldi: "Spamming certain units creates interesting possibilities but also fatal weaknesses."

Purgatus: "Math can inform decisions. It cannot make decisions."

Thoughts? Comments? Hugs and gropings?

You'd be that much quicker to figure out what I mean when I refer to a Unicorn if I covered it in a rainbow flag.

SinSynn: (To Brent) "Curse you and your insidious influence on the internets..."

Dave G (N++): "You know you're an internet celebrity when your following is more akin to tabloids."

I prefer the term Internet Personality (or IP) myself, seeing as how I coined it.

Lauby: "Your attempt to humanize him as failed. I feel nothing but scorn for his beard - it's like a warcrime or something."

BBF: "I've always thought you are a good player but I finally figured out that you are a great player. It's hard to see sometimes because your personality is engaging, sincere and quite charming - to me that is kind of a rare combination."

'Clearly cheating?' I didn't misspeak: you jumped to conclusions. If you'd like to apologize I'll be happy to send you an autographed picture of my ass.

Ass.

I thought I was doing alright before I realized I was losing.

Age and treachery beats youth and vigor every time.

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