Commas are important tools in the ongoing struggle for (and sometimes between) clarity and euphony – so important that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that, even more than most punctuation marks, commas are pretty much a local-option kind of deal. The conventions for comma usage vary from one language to another, as I learned to my sorrow back in the days when I was learning Old English and working with a lot of OE texts that had been edited by German scholars and therefore punctuated with German punctuation. (It’s a mark of where I learned a particular language and how I mostly used it that my rudiments of German are mostly stuff like “The following forms appear only in the dative plural,” while my fragmentary Spanish runs mostly along the lines of “Do you have Tylenol in drops for infants?”) Comma use also varies from one century to another, and from one writer to another – some writers prefer to deploy their commas strictly according to grammatical rule, whereas others prefer to use them according to the rhythm and the phrasing of the sentence.
Under the circumstances, it’s not surprising that some people take their commas very seriously indeed.
Over in another corner of the internet (the internet has many corners), Slate columnist Derrick Johnson strikes a blow against e-mail address snobbery when he explains why he still uses his AOL e-mail account. (Hint: because it still works just fine.)
Meanwhile, for the folklore and folk music enthusiasts among us, here’s the Vaughn Williams Memorial Library.
And finally, the reminder: the Dr. Doyle’s Editorial Services Springtime Seasonal Special closes at midnight this coming Saturday, April 11.