Consistent punctuation oddities

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Mon Apr 28 20:06:29 UTC 2008

I had students who would do this - but surely fewer than half a dozen out of many hundreds over many, many years. The error, of course, is easily corrected, but the writers would always express amazement that you can't start a line with a comma.


Charles Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Charles Doyle
Subject: Re: Consistent punctuation oddities

A few years ago I started noticing, in hand-written discussions, commas placed at the beginning of a line rather than the end of the preceding line/phrase. I doubt if students could have seen that practice in print anywhere, and probably word-processing programs won't even permit it, unless a space is inserted prior to the comma.


---- Original message ----
>Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2008 09:28:58 -0400
>From: Grant Barrett

>Does anyone know of any work that has been done on the consistent nonstandard use of punctuation? Two not-so-rare usages come to mind.
>1. Space before periods and commas rather than after. "Money ,that
>devil substance ,is like heaven to some people .They have no idea what
>hell is like ." Made up example, though I see this sort of thing in
>emails to the radio show that I'm reluctant to quote here without the
>correspondents' permission.
>2. Using commas instead of apostrophes. "I,ve done extensive research
>but I,m looking for the actual law." Real example posted today to my
>web site
>What most interests me is if there's any kind of rationalization for
>this punctuation. Did they teach themselves to type and that's the way
>they've always done it? Do they think it looks better? Are they typing
>on a foreign keyboard? Are they unaware that it's different than the
>way most people do it? Something else?
>Thanks, in any case.
>Grant Barrett
>gbarrett at
>113 Park Place, Apt. 3
>Brooklyn, NY 11217
>(646) 286-2260

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