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

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM
Mon Mar 20 10:45:19 EDT 2017

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

> 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."

I believe you are right.  Note that I specified "according to legend".

Truss page 99 also says "It is sometimes said, for instance, that Sir Roger Casement (1864-1916, the Irish would-be insurrectionist, was actually "hanged on a comma", which you have to admit sounds like a bit of very rough justice, though jolly intriguing.  How do you get hanged on a comma, exactly?  Doesn't the rope keep slipping off?...Casement was arrested and charged under the Treason Act of 1351, whereupon his defense counsel opted to argue a point of punctuation---which is the last refuge of the scoundrel, of course, but never mind, you can't blame the chap, it must have seemed worth a go..."

"blind bit of difference"??

- Jim Landau

Netscape.  Just the Net You Need.

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

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