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Showing posts from March 12, 2020

The importance of commas

I saw a blogpost entitled "Can a Comma Be Antisemitic?" So of course, I had to read it. You can find the original post at . And it's fascinating. The question is: What's the difference between "The Jews, who persecuted the Lord, drove us out" and "The Jews who persecuted the Lord drove us out." Or equivalently, what's the difference between "We have to throw out apples, which are wormy" and "We have to throw out apples which are wormy"? The article explains how the comma makes all the difference between a restrictive and a nonrestrictive clause. In the first (apple) case, all apples are wormy and must be thrown out. In the second, we restrict ourselves to discarding wormy apples - a much more sensible idea. (And in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15, those commas really might be misplaced.) In the Bible, commas matter! In writing,  commas matter!

Gnarly thoughts...

Gnarly? Now there's a word that struck me as singularly modern (or Lewis Carroll-ish). Of course, I'm English. Maybe it's not modern in American. And maybe there's a way to find out. Type a serious word into Google's search bar and you'll probably find a link to Wikipedia, high on the list of results. It's a great link and a great resource for serious words. But a word like gnarly? Type a word like gnarly or awesome into Google's search bar, and the dictionary answer comes first, with... an arrow at the bottom of the box, and a label next to the arrow: "translations, word origin, and more definitions." Click on the arrow and you'll find a neat little graph (I'm a mathematician; graphs are cool!) showing word usage over time. And there you'll learn that in the early 1900s, gnarly was not at all uncommon, whereas in the 1960s it had fallen out of favor, and now... It's useful information for an editor and for a writer. How c