Friday, April 11, 2008

Royal Punctuation

Let’s talk about what a humongous geek I am. Last night, for fun, I went to… (drumroll) Comma Class.

And it was awesome.

I kind of approached it as an AA-type thing, seeing as how I have a bit of an abuse problem with the literary equivalent of taking a breath. I like breathing. And dramatic pauses.

Words like “appositive” and “restrictive clause” reappeared in my vocabulary. We talked about coordinate adjectives and debated whether the word “massive” was an adjective of evaluation or if it really described size. Because you put a comma to separate adjectives of evaluation, but not adjectives describing shape. (Or color, or age, or size, or material.)

So you could write, “Several little black plastic buttons” but you would have to put a comma in it if you wrote, “Several pretty, expensive, sparkly black buttons.”

Um. I think, anyway. If I remember the lesson correctly. (Did I get it right, all you editors out there? I am struggling with the lack of comma after heavy. It seems like there should be one, but last night’s class has made me Not Sure.)

It was a bit of a lesson in humility. I would love to be an editor, but I realized just how much I need to learn and re-learn. All I know is, commas are WAY sexier than spreadsheets. Suck it, Excel.

There’s just something so lovely about the correctness of it all. There are rules! People don’t always follow them, but there is a right and a wrong way! There is structure, and I find comfort in it. (Despite the fact that I basically live outside of it.) Perfect CAN be attained. (Just not by me.) And apparently my subconscious really got excited about it all, because last night I had a dream where people in Germany were writing everything with “z”s and I was frantically running around, trying to remind everyone that although it sounds like a z, you actually write it with an s. And so I was screaming, “Remember the s’s!”

What makes it so funny is that I don’t even speak German.

Her Royal Highness, (, ?) ... &*%$! Princess Maybe Grammar Isn’t for Me


John In Colorado said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diane said...

I need to attend a class in dumb bell english. The only rule I know is to say it out loud and see if it sounds right.

Thanks Orange County Public Schools!

Princess of the Universe said...

Come up to Canada where we use "us" everywhere and we do us "z"' instead of s.

Amanda said...

this entry got me dizzy... I need to take a few classes myself.

dlpanther said...

I suppose it would be WAY too nerdy of me to inform you that some Excel files depend very heavily on commas... :-P

audrey said...

Comma class? And you didn't invite me? I am a little hurt, honestly. :)

In the case you're asking about the general rule of thumb is that is you can replace the comma with the word "and," then you should use the comma. So, if you could say the expensive and pretty purse, you could also say the expensive, pretty purse. Does that help? (It's okay if it doesn't; it doesn't always help me, either.)

Yoga Gal said...

I'm a grammar geek as well

Melissa said...

Comma Class!?!?!?! My Mom would be so proud of you. Thanks for not correcting all of my comma faux pas!

Princess in Galoshes said...

John- I know. Sad, isn't it?

Diane- My elementary school education was the same. It wasn't until AFTER college that I began to learn about grammar.

Princess of the U- Oooh! Good point. I like that about Canada.

Amanda- Sorry, I promise not to be such a nerd, next time.

DLPanther- NO!

Audrey- I'm going to a Chicago Manual of Style class this week, wanna go??

Yoga Gal- Word nerds unite!

Mel- You say that as though I don't make a million comma mistakes, myself.

Brendan Charles Huffman said...

You simply must hear "Oxford Comma" by Vampire Weekend.

"Who gives a fuck about an oxford comma/I've read those English dramas too..."

It's a rock tune about commas!

RolO the CAt said...

umm. commas? are they tasty like mice and voles? i want to put some commas between my teeth.

Random Musings Of My Life said...

Lol Commas really? I never know, hence have forgotten much since grade school.
Grammer smammer.... its the way this Canadian stuck in the US says...

oh and I linked you......

audrey said...

Shoot! I always forget to come back and check for your comment responses, and now I've missed the CMS class, haven't I?

Nick, Holly & Maren said...

That wasn't a dream, that was ME in my choir rehearsal, telling people to say Z for S, and TS fo Z...and they all forgot it once we moved on to the Spanish song. Alas. :-)
You need to check out - I think it might just make it onto your blogroll!