Comma splices - are they OK? - Page 4


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Thread: Comma splices - are they OK?

  1. #31
    I don’t think it is true that you need to write according to the rules or break them well to have many readers who like your books. The proof is in the numbers. I click look inside, and if I don’t like the writing, I don’t buy it. The only reason to worry about comma splices is to get the money from people who use “look inside” and hate comma splices. So many people don’t care about splices that there are writers with big followings that don’t seem to edit at all. Are there people looking down their nose? Sure. Are there people who buy books based on genre and cover, and then are surprised by the writing? Sure. If the writer doesn’t care about any of those opinions, then his comma splice isn’t wrong. Could he take English classes, and then spend twice as long on writing it, and then spend a grand paying an editor? Sure. But if his people don’t care, all that sounds foolish.

    the whole elitism or demanding proper grammar and punctuation, despite the cost in time and money, forced on people who don’t even care, strikes me as elitism in any other art. Imagine some percussionist with a doctorate in music education looking down his nose at the drummer for a pop rock band who taught himself. Look at all the errors. The simple mess. The wrong use of hands. He’s rushing. Blah blah blah. And then he fills a stadium and no one cares. Same thing.

  2. #32
    I'll put it this way:

    There are two authors, both of whom have written incredible stories. One is fraught with horrendous errors and questionable syntax. The other is a case study in grammatical excellence.

    Which of them do you think the publishing house will pick up first? Yes, the one who has the incredible story married with equally incredible command of language.

    Both are desirable. Both should be sought. One of the main criticisms I level at students is the lack of care they have when it comes to the nuts and bolts of writing. A good story is like a road car. It does the trick and gets you from A to B, but when you pop the hood and start to tinker with it, what you get is a race car. This is form fused with function. This is what a great story combined with great prose becomes.

    And it's not elitism to expect writers to care about this even if readers don't.
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  3. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    A run-on sentence is not the same as a comma splice. Run-on sentence:

    John went to the shops he bought eggs.

    Comma splice:

    John went to the shops, he bought eggs.
    I suppose you could call a comma splice a special case of a run-on sentence. Both are wrong.

  4. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnCalliganWrites View Post
    I don’t think it is true that you need to write according to the rules or break them well to have many readers who like your books. The proof is in the numbers. I click look inside, and if I don’t like the writing, I don’t buy it. The only reason to worry about comma splices is to get the money from people who use “look inside” and hate comma splices. So many people don’t care about splices that there are writers with big followings that don’t seem to edit at all. Are there people looking down their nose? Sure. Are there people who buy books based on genre and cover, and then are surprised by the writing? Sure. If the writer doesn’t care about any of those opinions, then his comma splice isn’t wrong. Could he take English classes, and then spend twice as long on writing it, and then spend a grand paying an editor? Sure. But if his people don’t care, all that sounds foolish.

    By your own words, people still buy books which aren't edited. Yeah, okay, maybe....but does anybody ever buy a book because it's not edited? Of course they don't.

    People who like badly edited, grammatically inferior books like them (generally) in spite of the mistakes, not because of them. The proof that something is a 'mistake' is that when it is corrected people like the book more.

    the whole elitism or demanding proper grammar and punctuation, despite the cost in time and money, forced on people who don’t even care, strikes me as elitism in any other art. Imagine some percussionist with a doctorate in music education looking down his nose at the drummer for a pop rock band who taught himself. Look at all the errors. The simple mess. The wrong use of hands. He’s rushing. Blah blah blah. And then he fills a stadium and no one cares. Same thing.
    It's absolutely not the same thing.

    In your analogy, you are comparing two different drummers who are playing entirely different types of music, with different techniques that have been proven empirically to 'work' within those genres. But comma splices (mostly) don't add anything to writing. Certainly you have not argued such. Your entire argument does not seem to rest on what poor punctuation can bring to writing, more that people shouldn't be allowed to identify poor punctuation at all, because it is unfair/oppressive/elitist/etc.

    To use your musical motif, that would be more akin to one guitar player telling another guitar player that they shouldn't bother tuning their guitar, on the basis that most of the crowd is either too drunk, stupid, or indifferent to care how their music sounds.
    Last edited by luckyscars; January 15th, 2020 at 09:43 AM.
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  5. #35
    I haven't been following this discussion too carefully, and somebody may have posted this already, but talk about comma splices!

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

  6. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Irwin View Post
    I haven't been following this discussion too carefully, and somebody may have posted this already, but talk about comma splices!
    Extract from Dickens novel:
    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
    This is probably one of those instances when the author's fame preceded him and he could get away with it. Apart from that, if full stops or semi-colons were to be used, it wouldn't flow. I also feel that the extract fits better with the writing styles of those times. Bear in mind that the readers might have been a little more haute taute in those days, as widespread literacy was in its early days. Apart from that, he was probably paid by the word. I like that he capitalised Light and Darkness.

    I think that, considering the likely reading audience of the time, Dickens' style as shown above was reasonable. I can imagine such wordsmithery being quite palatable on stage too.


  7. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Istine View Post
    This is probably one of those instances when the author's fame preceded him and he could get away with it. Apart from that, if full stops or semi-colons were to be used, it wouldn't flow. I also feel that the extract fits better with the writing styles of those times. Bear in mind that the readers might have been a little more haute taute in those days, as widespread literacy was in its early days. Apart from that, he was probably paid by the word. I like that he capitalised Light and Darkness.

    I think that, considering the likely reading audience of the time, Dickens' style as shown above was reasonable. I can imagine such wordsmithery being quite palatable on stage too.
    I always interpreted that passage as not really being prose. It's sort of a speech, one that bears little direct relevance to the actual story. A preface. In that context, it works because it is read as poetry or a dramatic monologue or even a sort of sermon. I come to this conclusion based on the abstractness of the language used and the repetitive nature of "It was..."

    I think that's sort of the common thread between occasions where comma splicing is acceptable. Like Emma's example, if it's conjoining individual phrases with some element of repetition needed for effect, it works. I'm sure there are lots of examples of that one could come up with. It's used often in poetry so whenever you have a passage of 'prose poetry' or 'poetic prose' it's likely to contain such things.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

    "Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow."

    “Remember this: Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him. ”

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  8. #38
    Ella walked to the door, then she turned back.
    Is that a comma splice? Well, we could carefully scrutinize the laws of grammar as published by the Society for the Advancement of English Grammar (SAEG), except they don't exist.

    It turns out that there is surprisingly good consensus among statements of the rules of grammar, and we could define that as the rules of grammar. And according to those, it is a comma splice. (Surprise!)

    The problem is, the word then functions exactly like a coordinating conjunction, and it should be included in the coordinating conjunctions. The SAEG even voted to call then a coordinating conjunction (https://www.writingforums.com/thread...6-Grammar-News), but . . . see above, it doesn't exist.

    So there are quirky factors in the decision of what exactly counts as grammatical. There's still a well-defined line here, but I'm not sure how important that line is. Unless people think that line's important and look down on writers who would write a sentence like that.

    We cannot communicate without conventions, and it makes sense to defend those. But I don't see how that's an issue here.
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  9. #39
    I'm guilty of these in the heat of writing the first draft. I usually edit them into proper sentences later.
    Last edited by JonF; January 15th, 2020 at 06:32 PM.

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bloggsworth View Post
    The semi-colon is just a posh comma splice...
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