Thursday, April 19, 2012

Oh, No! Punctuation Revisited. Again.

Block That Comma!

The New Yorker has always been scrupulous, bordering on fetishistic, about commas, in large part because of its founder Harold Ross’s mania for precision and clarity. E.B. White, who was subject to the magazine’s editing for more than five decades, remarked in a Paris Review interview, ‘Commas in The New Yorker fall with the precision of knives in a circus act, outlining the victim.’

“There are many examples, but one particular comma use is consistently and pretty much only found in The New Yorker. An example is a sentence from an article by Jane Mayer in the double issue dated Feb. 13 and 20:

Before [Lee] Atwater died, of brain cancer, in 1991, he expressed regret over the “naked cruelty” he had shown to [Michael] Dukakis in making “Willie Horton his running mate.”

“No other publication would put a comma after ‘died’ or ‘cancer.’ The New Yorker does so because otherwise (or so the thinking goes), the sentence would suggest that Atwater died multiple times and of multiple causes.”

—Ben Yagoda,
professor, columnist and author,
Fanfare for the Comma Man,”
The New York Times,
April 9, 2012
Image: Peter Arkle

• Editorial Comment: That New Yorker punctuation abuse, always, bugs me. Anyone who has to edit student writing will, regularly, fall into a coma.

• RERUN: Uncle Walter Did you miss yesterday’s WORDs remembering Walter Cronkite’s first CBS evening newscast, 50 years ago this week? Click here.

• 2012 JCOM Awards: The JCOM Department celebrates the end of a GREAT year and congratulates its Class of 2012 Friday at 2 p.m. in the Ag Building Auditorium (#101), followed by a reception and open house of new JCOM offices and labs. Outstanding Student Awards, 2012-13 Scholarships, general hilarity in the last week of classes. Junior Emily Landeen produced this video of student feedback on the department.

News from
our award-winning student news site, The Hard News Café

Weekly HNC News Roundup
USU journalists dominate annual regional Mark of Excellence Awards
JCOM Prof, SLTrib Photographer Win Journalism Ethics Award
Laketown man gets August trial date for ER sex charge, by Tmera Bradley
Richmond Council approves use of building for Zumba class
, by Chris Lee
Sign up now if you want to be in Hyrum’s 4th of July parade and fest, by Tara Alvey
Aggie journalists collect 17 prizes at annual Mark of Excellence Awards, by D. Whitney Smith
ATV News (4/12): Fraternity drinking, the BYU ‘It Gets Better’ video, Baby Animal Days . . . and more!
Remembering the 2005 van crash victims at Ag building memorial, by Allie Jeppson
GUEST COLUMN: Obama leads the way in kindness, civility, by Helen Cannon
Should Mormons be vegetarians? Yes, says guest speaker, by Sean O’Sullivan
Search warrant for dorm room leads to three arrests, by Josh Ruggles
Up Close at the 2012 Utah Legislature: An Intern’s Perspective, by Lis Stewart

PeezPIX by Ted Pease
Catalog here

Fang the Wonder Cat died last week, 1995-2012
Hairballs in Heaven


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