Confessions of a Comma Queen

Confessions of a Comma Queen

Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris

Confessions of a Comma Queen

“Nobody knows everything—one of the pleasures of language is that there is always something new to learn—and everybody makes mistakes.”

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen – Mary Norris

It was an Austin author who first let me know that. Wasn’t how he phrased it, but close enough.

“Although it is a pain whenever I want to double a consonant before a suffix, per New Yorker style, and the spell-check prefers the no-frills version—“mislabeled,” say, instead of “mislabelled”—and I have to go back and poke in the extra letter and then put up with a disapproving red line under the word, I would never disable spell-check. That would be hubris.”

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen – Mary Norris

The best parts include the underpinning of current “best practices” usage and having a more salubrious definition that my old The New York Times Manual of Style for the correct time to use “that” and “which,” always a bit of a teaser for me.

“It was my province to capitalize the I in Interstate 80, hyphenate I-80, and lowercase “the interstate.”

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen – Mary Norris

Now I know, always been curious, as I’ve spent so many years just spitting distance from the interstate –

“Another common problem that demands judgment is the dangling participle. With a dangler, you can either fix the subject of the sentence to match the participle or give the participial phrase its own verb, turning it into a clause.”

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen – Mary Norris

Me? I get excited, and can’t type fast enough. Leave them dangling – all over the place.

It’s a book for word nerds.

The narrative, such that there is, the author made her way from driving a milk truck to the copy desk at The New Yorker, that left-leaning bastion of grammar and style. I keep trying, for years to “double ll” some of my spelling, only to have the spell-checker (software) correct me.

I wondered from whence that desire did stem. Now I know.

Enthralling reading, and I suppose, spend enough time with certain authors and it’s bound to rub off. Did in her case, for sure.

“(At a ceremony honoring Susan B. Anthony, Orovan feminized the sign of the cross: “In the name of the Mother, the Daughter, and the Holy Granddaughter. Ah-women.” Holy Mother Church may be feminine, but she’s no feminist.)”

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen – Mary Norris

My pulled quotes and citations are not in complete adherence to current academic standards, but I figure I leave enough of a link to find the text, which, in my mind, should be good enough.

“I have to admit that as a copy editor I agree with the conservatives—my job is to do no harm.”

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen – Mary Norris

I love this stuff. Perfect car analogy.

“To understand how the language works, though—to master the mechanics of it—you have to roll up your sleeves and join the ink-stained wretches as we name the parts, being careful to define them in a way that makes them simpler instead of more complicated, and see how they work together.”

I’m a word nerd, so this stuff works. The mechanics of it all.

“A writer friend who was born in England summed up her feelings for the semicolon in a remark worthy of Henry James: “There is no pleasure so acute as that of a well-placed semicolon.” I guess the opposite of that is that there is no displeasure so obtuse as that of an ill-placed semicolon.”

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

“It’s an inarguable tenet of punctuation: the period at the end of the sentence makes you stop and tells you that a new sentence is about to begin. Otherwise you have the despicable “run-on sentence.”

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

My own archives are full of mistakes, but I love working at getting better.

“Great sport is made of what Lynne Truss calls the grocer’s apostrophe, a sort of poor relation of the Oxford comma.”

New term, for me: Grocer’s comma?

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen – Mary Norris

Does grammar matter?

Law and Punctuation.

With my take on the Oxford Comma.

Confessions of a Comma Queen

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen – Mary Norris

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

#Books

Kramer Wetzel

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