Saturday, September 27, 2008

Authoritative comma-splicer

I'm delighted by the current series of "How to Write" booklets in the guardian. Indeed, as I looked at two of the titles - the one on Journalism, and The Guardian book of English Language - I reflected how valuable these wee bookies would be if you had enough copies to leave scattered usefully about an English classroom - much less intimidating and much more entertaining than your average text book, with the added cachet of having been produced by real live journalists rather than by educationists.

And then I came to a short section written by Michael White - the Guardian's Politics blog writer - on How to Write a Blog. He says, rightly, that the journalist's style "must adapt to the different medium it is: more intimate, more informally conversational ..." and so on. And then it all goes horrid as an example of comma-splice leaps out of the fourth paragraph.
"So a blogger must be careful with facts, even bad spelling can shatter the illusion of authority".
Yes, Michael, but surely an authoritative blogger must be sure of his punctuation - because this kind of stuff turns me right off.

And I'd have to think twice about the classroom idea.


  1. Quantum mutatus ab illo Hectore! Is this the same Michael White who was such an entertaining political sketch artist? (Believe it or not, I was once a "Grauniad" reader, until the whining noises from the letters page made me absquatulate therefrom.) O tempora! O Custos!

  2. Couldn't have put it better myself ...

  3. Relatedly, one of the comma-abuses I find most horrendous: ", and that is..." followed by something that could be a sentence in its own right. I gave up listening to Radio 4 because of that (amongst few other things).