Daily Archives: August 30, 2008

let comma heads, as it were, prevail

A colleague mentioned another colleague’s having found a sentence with sixteen commas in it – “what may have been a record.” Well, who can pass up a challenge like that? Continue reading

a convincing – or persuasive – argument?

An email sent around to members of the Editors’ Association of Canada enjoined members to “Convince [a fellow] editor to become a member of EAC,” which sparked a debate among members as to whether “convince” could – or should – be used there rather than “persuade.” It was pointed out that usage guides note that some people find “convince someone to do something” objectionable, but it was also pointed out that the distinction was unfamiliar even to some EAC members. This provoked a response that ignorance of the law is no defense. Which provoked a response from me on the nature of laws of language: Continue reading

the long and short of English vowels

A colleague mentioned an exercise she was editing in which adult ESL students are asked to sort words according to whether the vowel sound is short or long. She asked, “Where did this terminology come from, anyway? And is there any other way of effectively describing this sound-spelling relationship?” Continue reading

Jack Lyon is right too

I’m told that Jack Lyon of Editorium discerns a semantic difference between, for instance, “I like ice cream too” and “I like ice cream, too.” Although I don’t know that I would set it down as a hard and fast rule, I do find that it works for me as for him: for me, the comma in this case does reflect a difference in intonation and sense. Consider these two sentences: Continue reading