[Ads-l] Let's eat grandpa: why punctuation isn't a matter of life and death, even in the law.

Baker, John JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM
Thu Mar 16 14:42:58 EDT 2017


The case is O'Connor v. Oakhurst Dairy, http://media.ca1.uscourts.gov/pdf.opinions/16-1901P-01A.pdf, and it's actually pretty interesting.  The statute said that the Maine overtime law does not apply to "The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:  (1) Agricultural produce; (2) Meat and fish products; and (3) Perishable foods."

The case turned on the meaning of the words "packing for shipment or distribution."  In other words, is "distribution" a separate item in this list, like canning, processing, etc., or is it the object of the preposition "for" and relevant only to the extent that there is "packing for . . . distribution"?  A dairy took the position that it did not have to pay overtime to its delivery drivers, because they were involved in the distribution of perishable foods; the drivers, of course, took the opposite position.  After an analysis of each side's position that seems quite strong to me, the court concluded that the words are inherently ambiguous, so it gave the victory to the drivers, per a provision of Maine law that essentially says that ties go to the employees.

Dennis argues that the case shows that commas are not as important as pedants argue.  The case does not so much support this view as directly contradict it.  The court was clear that it would have ruled for the dairy if there were a comma after the word "shipment."


John Baker


-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Joel Berson
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2017 10:33 AM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: Let's eat grandpa: why punctuation isn't a matter of life and death, even in the law.

I apologize for my post.  I neglected to look ahead.

Joel


      From: "Baron, Dennis E" <debaron at ILLINOIS.EDU>
 To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU 
 Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2017 3:05 AM
 Subject: [ADS-L] Let's eat grandpa: why punctuation isn't a matter of life and death, even in the law.
   
There’s a new post on the Web of Language:

Let's eat grandpa: why punctuation isn't a matter of life and death, even in the law. On the Web of Language: http://bit.ly/2ncLDvW <https://t.co/TbOkNlol7z>


There’s a pedant at my university who likes to stand on the Quad, wave a grammar book at passers-by, and warn them that a comma can mean the difference between life and death. He or she points an accusing finger at some poor soul and makes them fix the commas in their term paper.

You’d better get those commas right, pedants like to warn, because “Commas save lives,” an eternal truth they illustrate with the life-and-death Parable of the Dinner Guest:

    (1) Let’s eat, grandpa.

    (2) Let’s eat grandpa.

Don’t let the pedants sucker you with their scary comma talk. There is no one in their right mind who reads the second example as an invitation to cannibalism.

Read the whole post on the Web of Language:  http://bit.ly/2ncLDvW <https://t.co/TbOkNlol7z>

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


   

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


More information about the Ads-l mailing list