Wed Jan 24 18:11:45 UTC 2001

This sort of error is as common as it is because English
punctuation does not allow us to mark something that speech marks
very nicely.  If you say this sentence with the because meaning,
you will probably have normal declarative sentence intonation with
a slight rise on the end of "now", and then the second clause will
be in a generally lower intonation, indicating that its content is
presupposed to be true.  The content will then invite the causal
interpretation.  We do this a lot in speech.  However, writing
doesn't mark intonation so efficiently, and so we can't do it in
writing.  I think that students--and the rest of us--who write
sentences like the one question are trying to express just that
presuppositional relationship, not realizing that English
punctuation can't handle that meaning.  That's what makes the
comma splice such a problem in English.  As speakers we feel we
ought to be able to write things like that.  As writers, we learn
that we can't and after a while stop trying to.

Herb Stahlke

>>> pulliam at IIT.EDU 01/24/01 02:27AM >>>
Does it seem to anyone else that the type of "comma splice"
exemplified in

"We can probably wait on the software for now, I don't think it
be a problem."

(where the comma takes the place of "because" or "since") is
more and more common in written correspondence?  This is the
third or
fourth instance I've seen in less than a week, leading me to
that it may be moving toward respectability.


greg at

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