Friday, July 9, 2010

Yeah... I Guess He's with Me

I don’t have much of an opinion about Russell Brand and Katy Perry as individuals, but as a couple, I'm so in. It's rare that both partners in a relationship are so over-the-top. I mean, imagine the two of them getting dressed to go somewhere: "Wear the one made of aluminium (pronounced alyouminium)." "Unbutton it one, no two, more." "Hang on, Love; I'll grab the scissors and make that slit a little bloody higher." "The shiny gold ones, for sure."

If my husband showed up to an event wearing Russell's outfit, I would probably try to button at least one button while he wasn't looking and, with a sheepish expression on my face, make excuses about his outfit to others: "We only had time to do a load of whites."

I know that married couples are supposed to be supportive of one another, but, is it just me, or do you sometimes get kind of embarrassed by what your partner does and try to distance yourself from his or her actions?

I know that Edgar Alward did. He tried to distance himself from a decision his wife, Jean, made. Edgar and Jean Alward are the married couple that co-wrote the book Punctuation Plain & Simple. Well, actually, I am not sure they are married. They could be brother and sister or mother and son or father and daughter or two people who coincidentally share the same last name, but something in the book leads me to believe they are married.

I was reading the comma section, and it was listing the comma rules just like any other punctuation guide. And then I read this:

"One form of the use of the comma that has recently become apparent to one of the authors of this book is the use of the comma in place of the word that."

Can’t you just feel the passive aggression in "has recently become apparent to ONE of the authors (rolls his eyes in Jean's direction) of this book"? I imagine that Jean told Edgar about this rule and Edgar didn't agree, but Jean insisted, so he reluctantly gave in.

This is the example they used in the book to prove the rule:

The bad news is, there is one more bureaucratic hassle for small businesses. The good news is, it could in the long run save them a lot of trouble and expense.

(I am interpreting the "bureaucratic hassle" as code for Jean’s insistence to include this rule and "trouble and expense" as divorce.)

I think both Edgar and Jean have a point, though.

Like Jean, I have often felt like sentences that start by announcing something with a phrase ending in is need something after the is.

But, like Edgar, I could never find a rule to support it. In fact, so far, the only place I've encoutered it is in their book. I am actually curious how it became "apparent to her." Did she have some sort of epiphany? Did it come to her in a dream?

But, I must say, I do like it. I’m thinking about embracing it.

What about you? Team Edgar or Team Jean?


No One Reads The Copy said...

Tough call... But, I think I'm Team Jean. If I wrote that sentence, I'd probably use a comma because there is a pause in speech, right?

Boonsong said...

Re, "or do you sometimes get kind of embarrassed by what your partner does and try to distance yourself from his or her actions?": My wife wears wellington boots (for work not play) and eats deep fried grasshoppers as a snack, but I'm never embarrassed. I'm very proud of her. She's adorable.

Have a nice day, Boonsong

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Grammar is so weird that way. In school, we're taught that the rules are unbreakable, but in writing... well, it seems like it's a lot more subjective than I used to believe. British grammar v. US grammar. Toward/Towards. Team Jean or Team Edgar. It's all so confusing!!!!

Anonymous said...

A husband and wife team writing a book on punctuation?! That (not a comma) is hilarious!
As for what comes after the "is", that depends on whether I am speaking or writing. If I am writing, I'd be tempted to use "that". If I am speaking, a pause in breath would do the trick. I don't know. It could go both ways. - G

Summer said...

Team Jean!

keppi baranick said...

Jenny Team!

notesfromnadir said...

These people sure know a lot about commas!

Mary Aalgaard said...

I'm with Jean. And, again, too funny. How can someone make grammar so hilarious?

nomadshan said...

Love the eye roll toward Jean. :)

I've seen people use a comma like that, but I don't like it. Because the first phrase sets up an announcement, I'd use a colon to introduce the second part of the sentence.

(That's for American English [not sure where you're based]. When I read HARRY POTTER, I noticed that Rowling use a colon in the same way I'd use a semi-colon -- to split but connect two sort-of-related phrases. So...different in British English?

Anyhoo, back to commas...)

j.m. neeb said...

As always, great post! Loved the commentary on Perry and Brand's ensemble choices. :)

I think that I'm partial to using "that" in such an instance. Although, I'm also partial to selectively using rules when and how I see fit.

I suppose that qualifies me as being on Team Jean-Edgar (aka, Team Can't-We-All-Just-Get-Along-?).

Talli Roland said...

I'm gonna say Team Jean.

Oh, I can't stand Russell Brand. Ergh.

Kate said...

This is the first blog I have come across which discusses the use of commas! I think I am in love. I like to think I am awesome at grammar and I love using commas, though sometimes I think books use them all wrong. In fact, all the grammar rules I abide by are probably made up by me... No, I do that capital-letter-full-stop thing I was taught in primary school: I definitely didn't make that one up.

"Aluminium (pronounced alyouminium)"... This is definitely the correct way to pronounce it.

I am off to nosey about your blog more: I would love some enlightenment on semi-colons, curious little creatures that they are.

Kate x

Anonymous said...

I was reading the same section today and had very similar thoughts.

I was tempted to email the Alwards, but after a little research, found Edgar passed last month. This being my favorite punctuation book (really) I was more than a little saddened.

I find your assumption that Edgar is the one against the rule interesting. I want to know the real story behind this.

crysy92 said...

If he looks like an ugly dork that makes me look like a cute dork. haha! Win, win.