[Ads-l] commas

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 28 16:37:29 UTC 2018

James A. Landau wrote:
> also the following T-shirt:
> Commas save lives

The earliest (apparent) match I saw for this type of joke occurred in
an article within a business periodical that discussed using commas
correctly. Here are two versions of the joke template:

Let's eat, X.
Let us eat X.

If the date assigned by Google Books is accurate then the instance
below antedates the circa 1949 instance found by Barry Popik.

Year: Circa 1946 to 1948
Periodical: American Business Education
Volumes 3-5
Quote Page 271 (according to GB)
Database: Google Books Snippet; must be verified with hardcopy

[Begin extracted text]
A comma is used to separate the parts of a sentence or sentence
elements that might be wrongly joined in reading.

1. Ever since, he has been with his mother.
2. Before you go to your home, Mr. Little, the president, will give
you the money.
3. Ever since, Eve has wanted to visit Sweden.
4. Let us eat, girls.
[End extracted text]

Below is another example:

Year: 1956
Periodical: Business Education World
Volume 37
Quote Page 77 (According to GB)
Database: Google Books Snippet; must be verified with hardcopy


[Begin extracted text]
Use the comma to point off sentence elements that might be wrongly
joined if there were no comma.

(1) Within, the fire burned brightly.
(2) Ever since, he has been with the organization.
(3) Before you leave, Mr. Adams, the treasurer, will give you your check.
(4) Let us eat, gentlemen.
(5) Whichever plan you decide to follow, follow it wisely.
[End extracted text]


On Fri, Sep 21, 2018 at 4:12 PM ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> Back in March 2017 there was a thread initiated by Dennis Baron titled
> "Let's eat grandpa: why punctuation isn't a matter of life and death,
> even in the law."
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2017-March/146982.html
> At the time I pointed to research by Barry Popik into this family of
> jokes that began with a Google Books snippet match dated 1949.
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2017-March/147031.html
> Here is a link to Barry's webpage on the topic:
> https://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/lets_eat_grandma_or_lets_eat_grandma_punctuation_saves_lives
> Garson

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

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