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. Anonymous11:45 PM

    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. Anonymous11:02 AM

    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).