[Ads-l] Let's eat grandpa: why punctuation isn't a matter of life and

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM
Fri Mar 17 18:25:10 EDT 2017

I seriously doubt whether the presence or absence of a comma would have made a
blind bit of difference to the result of the Casement trial.  The government of
the day was out to get Casement, and the selective leaking of heavily doctored
portions of the so-called Black Diaries had managed to turn the English public
against him.  Even Joseph Conrad, who had admired Casement's work in the Congo
and gave him a short, if unnamed, part in _Heart of Darkness_, as one of the few
sympathetic white characters there, turned against Casement and argued against a

"The ghost of Roger Casement / Is knocking at the door."

Robin Hamilton

>     On 17 March 2017 at 20:02 "James A. Landau" <JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM>
> wrote:
>     Lynne Truss _Eats Shoots & Leaves_ (US hardback edition) New York: Gotham
> Books, 2004, ISBN 1-592-40087-6
>     has two examples of punctuation that had fatal results:
>     pp 99ff is about Roger Casement who, according to legend, was "hanged on a
> comma". The statute in question read "if a man be adherent to the king's
> enemies in the realm giving to them aid and comfort in the realm or elsewhere"
> without a comma and "Casement's defence argued that, since Casement had not
> been adherent to the kaing's enemies 'in the realm' (Indeed, on the contrary,
> had scrupulously conducted all his treasonous plotting abroad), he was not
> guilty."
>     pp10ff the Jameson on the Transvaal: "when the settlers sent their
> telegraphic invitation to Jameson, it included a tragic ambiguity: '...we feel
> cosntrained to call upon you to come to our aid should a disturbance arise
> here...we cannot but believe that you and the men under you will not fail to
> come to the rescue...'
>     "...if you place a full stop after the word 'aid' in this passage, the
> message is unequivocal. It says, 'Come at once!' If you put it after 'here',
> however, it says something more like 'We might need you at some later date
> depending...'"
>     - Jim Landau
>     _____________________________________________________________
>     Netscape. Just the Net You Need.
>     ------------------------------------------------------------
>     The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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