January 19, 2014

"The 5 Best Punctuation Marks in Literature."

Maybe so... but in any case: nice headline — even though I got distracted (delighted?) wondering whether it was right [AKA: correct!] to count parentheses as one; a pedant might count each parenthesis separately.

16 comments:

rhhardin said...

Question mark

St. George said...

riverrun

St. George said...

the

lgv said...

How dare you include the banished semicolon, or is it semi-colon in your response. It should be banished from our language!!!

ddh said...

Chapter LV, "The Old Dialogue of Adam and Eve" in The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas by Machado de Assis is nothing but punctuation marks.

pm317 said...

a pedant might count each parenthesis separately

really?

Stephen A. Meigs said...

In math, when dealing with parentheses orally, it is usually best to replace the first parenthesis with a word indicating the operation intended and ignore the last parenthesis. So, for instance, 2 * (3 + 4) becomes "two times the sum 3 + 4" and "A and (B or C)" becomes "A and either B or C". The first parenthesis is more important because that tells one essentially how to convert to forward Polish notation (though in oral discourse, one usually leaves the operator in the middle (for quick clarity?), so the converted part is part infix even though the converted part is fully prefix (Polish) notation. Similarly, if converting to reverse Polish notation, the last parenthesis is more important.

traditionalguy said...

I love half assed colons myself.

jimbino said...

A pedant would also note that the "wondering whether it was right" should read either "wondering whether it were right" or "wondering whether it had been right."

Besides being a grammatical error, use of the indicative "was" leaves the reader confused.

Consider:

"I was distracted, wondering whether it was legal to smoke opium."

Yes, it was legal, but now it isn't legal. What
does the sloppy writer mean?

Does she also say, "If I was you, I would...."

Ann Althouse said...

"A pedant would also note that the "wondering whether it was right" should read either "wondering whether it were right" or "wondering whether it had been right.""

Nah. "Whether it was right" is so obviously right that there's nothing to spend time on.

jimbino said...

Well Ann, what do you mean? Do you wonder "Is it right?" or "Was it right?"

I can only guess, and a translator into Latin, Greek, Russian, German or a modern Romance language might get it entirely wrong.

m stone said...

I like them too: wandering colons.

Ann Althouse said...

Was and is and ever will be.

jimbino said...

Glib. Glib.

Professors should be required to teach.

Sam L. said...

Really? You don't say, You DON'T say.

Ambrose said...

The metaleptic seven-deep nested quotations in "Menalaiad" --
Lost In The Funhouse, John Barth