Elocutionary Punctuation

All throughout my schooling experience, I have had English teachers scold me for my punctuation.  Spelling?  Perfect.  Grammar?  Spot-on.  Punctuation?  “See me.”

You see, I like commas.  A lot.  To me, they provide a separation of ideas, a sort of mental pause when reading.  A long sentence can be made more legible by separating it into more digestible chunks.  Also, when I write, I like to do so as if I were speaking.  Ideally, someone would be able to imagine my cadence exactly as if I were talking directly to them, as opposed to them reading my words.

This caused a lot of problems.

The most common remark I would get from my English teachers would be something along the lines of “Commas should not just be sprinkled into your writing.”  I would nod, promise to work on it, and then go do exactly what they told me not to.  Not surprisingly, a few of my A papers turned into B papers.  No big.

Flash forward to early 2010, when I discovered this post by Eric Raymond, renowned hacker and open-source contributor.  As it turns out, one of my computer-world idols had the same thoughts as myself!  Finally, an intellectual who recognizes the elegance of forgoing traditional notions of punctuation in exchange for more personal and meaningful communication.

Now all I have to do is go back to every English teacher I have ever had, show them this article, and have them retroactively change my grades.


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