Discussion:
semicolons after or between consecutive adverbial subordinate clauses
(too old to reply)
Metrist2021
2021-12-01 21:28:56 UTC
Permalink
Greetings,

I recently conceived of a usage of semicolons which I don't believe I have
ever read about or have ever had a real occasion to use. Nevertheless, I
am so fond of the idea that I have deliberately created a sentence to fit
the bill. Isn't the following sentence ambiguous?

(1) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.

It seems to me that (1) allows for two interpretations. First, it could mean
that "we" have church Sunday morning and thus can't join "you" then. (On
this reading, the "when"-clause is a nonrestrictive adverbial clause
commenting on "Sunday morning." "We" will come and visit some other time.

Second, (1) could mean that "we" will come and visit when "we" have
church. The implication is, of course, that "we" have church at some time
other than Sunday morning. "We" can't join "you" on Sunday morning for
some unmentioned reason, having nothing to do with our having church.

Would you agree that the semicolons below disambiguate each reading?

(1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church;
we will be sure to come and visit.
(1b) Although we can't join you Sunday morning; when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.

Thank you. : )
Stefan Ram
2021-12-01 21:43:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
(1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church;
we will be sure to come and visit.
(1b) Although we can't join you Sunday morning; when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.
It's not just a good idea, it's the law!

When you join two complete sentences without a coordinating
conjunction (like "for", "and", "nor", "but", "or", "yet",
or "so") a semicolon is required.
Stefan Ram
2021-12-01 21:51:08 UTC
Permalink
Supersedes: <comma-splice-***@ram.dialup.fu-berlin.de>
[added a missing comma to the last line and a "PS"]
Post by Metrist2021
(1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church;
we will be sure to come and visit.
(1b) Although we can't join you Sunday morning; when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.
It's not just a good idea, it's the law!

When you join two complete sentences without a coordinating
conjunction (like "for", "and", "nor", "but", "or", "yet",
or "so"), a semicolon is required.

Now I begin to get doubts about whether the part starting
with "although" really is a complete sentence. Therefore,
the above might not apply here. In this case, I think your
idea is fine!
Stefan Ram
2021-12-01 22:02:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
(1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church;
we will be sure to come and visit.
(1b) Although we can't join you Sunday morning; when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.
As far as I can see, the Chicago Manual Of Style does not
give an explicit license for the semicolon in this case.
What comes most close is:

|Normally, an independent clause introduced by a conjunction
|is preceded by a comma. In formal prose, a semicolon may be
|used instead - either to effect a stronger, more dramatic
|separation between clauses or when the second independent
|clause has internal punctuation.

, the general idea should be (also from the CMOS):

|Punctuation should be governed by its function, which in
|ordinary text is to promote ease of reading
|by clarifying relationships within and between sentences.

. Personally, I think that your semicolon is very helpful
and downright necessary to clarify the meaning. You should
by all means use it!
Stefan Ram
2021-12-01 22:19:42 UTC
Permalink
What would you think of "We can't join you Sunday morning, when we have
church; but we will be sure to come and visit"?
Maybe the words were recorded on a tape recorder, and one
now has to make a transcription. In this case, one would
not be allowed to change the words.
Ken Blake
2021-12-01 22:46:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
Greetings,
I recently conceived of a usage of semicolons which I don't believe I have
ever read about or have ever had a real occasion to use. Nevertheless, I
am so fond of the idea that I have deliberately created a sentence to fit
the bill. Isn't the following sentence ambiguous?
(1) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.
It seems to me that (1) allows for two interpretations. First, it could mean
that "we" have church Sunday morning and thus can't join "you" then. (On
this reading, the "when"-clause is a nonrestrictive adverbial clause
commenting on "Sunday morning." "We" will come and visit some other time.
One of the two commas should be deleted, depending on what is meant.

Although we can't join you Sunday morning when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.

Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church
we will be sure to come and visit.
Post by Metrist2021
Second, (1) could mean that "we" will come and visit when "we" have
church. The implication is, of course, that "we" have church at some time
other than Sunday morning. "We" can't join "you" on Sunday morning for
some unmentioned reason, having nothing to do with our having church.
Would you agree that the semicolons below disambiguate each reading?
No.
Post by Metrist2021
(1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church;
we will be sure to come and visit.
No. "Although" doesn't belong there. It make the part before the
semicolon an incomplete sentence.
Post by Metrist2021
(1b) Although we can't join you Sunday morning; when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.
Same thing. Delete the "although."
Metrist2021
2021-12-02 17:57:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ken Blake
Post by Metrist2021
Greetings,
I recently conceived of a usage of semicolons which I don't believe I have
ever read about or have ever had a real occasion to use. Nevertheless, I
am so fond of the idea that I have deliberately created a sentence to fit
the bill. Isn't the following sentence ambiguous?
(1) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.
It seems to me that (1) allows for two interpretations. First, it could mean
that "we" have church Sunday morning and thus can't join "you" then. (On
this reading, the "when"-clause is a nonrestrictive adverbial clause
commenting on "Sunday morning." "We" will come and visit some other time.
One of the two commas should be deleted, depending on what is meant.
Although we can't join you Sunday morning when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.
Deleting the comma before "when" changes the meaning. It renders the
"when"-relative clause restrictive, such that it implies that "we" may be able
to join "you" on time periods within Sunday morning that do not overlap
with the time period during which "we" have church. In other words, the
sentence would say that it is only during the time that "we" have church
on Sunday morning that "we" can't join "you."
Post by Ken Blake
Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church
we will be sure to come and visit.
That is nonstandard punctuation, at least in American English. Subordinate
clauses that come before a main clause are separated from the main clause
by a comma. No English teacher would accept: "When we have church we will
be sure to come and visit." If the subclause comes at the end, no comma is needed.
Post by Ken Blake
Post by Metrist2021
Second, (1) could mean that "we" will come and visit when "we" have
church. The implication is, of course, that "we" have church at some time
other than Sunday morning. "We" can't join "you" on Sunday morning for
some unmentioned reason, having nothing to do with our having church.
Would you agree that the semicolons below disambiguate each reading?
No.
Why not? They group the clauses in such a way that the respective readings
are obvious and one cannot be read the other way.
Post by Ken Blake
Post by Metrist2021
(1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church;
we will be sure to come and visit.
No. "Although" doesn't belong there. It make the part before the
semicolon an incomplete sentence.
How is the sentence incomplete with "Although" being there? A semicolon
does not mark the end of a sentence, and they do not always mark the end
of an independent clause, even in customary usage: "He has lived in Los
Angeles, California; Austin, Texas; and Seattle, Washington."
Post by Ken Blake
Post by Metrist2021
(1b) Although we can't join you Sunday morning; when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.
Same thing. Delete the "although."
Would you feel more comfortable, perhaps, if we kept "although" and shifted
the "when"-clause to the end of the main clause. The following is equivalent to (1b):

(1b') Although we can't join you Sunday morning, we will be sure to come and visit
when we have church.
Peter Moylan
2021-12-02 01:50:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
Would you agree that the semicolons below disambiguate each
reading?
(1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have
church; we will be sure to come and visit. (1b) Although we can't
join you Sunday morning; when we have church, we will be sure to
come and visit.
I'm uncomfortable with the idea of separating a subordinate clause
from its main clause with a semicolon. I am happy with using the
semicolon as a supercomma separating coordinate clauses, even when
there is a coordinating conjunction there.
What would you think of "We can't join you Sunday morning, when we
have church; but we will be sure to come and visit"?
That would have been my answer.

Semicolons can be useful, they can't be used to split a sentence in
examples like (1a) and (1b) above. Version (1b) does work if you delete
the word "although".
--
Peter Moylan Newcastle, NSW http://www.pmoylan.org
Peter T. Daniels
2021-12-02 15:23:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
Greetings,
I recently conceived of a usage of semicolons which I don't believe I have
ever read about or have ever had a real occasion to use. Nevertheless, I
am so fond of the idea that I have deliberately created a sentence to fit
the bill. Isn't the following sentence ambiguous?
(1) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.
It seems to me that (1) allows for two interpretations. First, it could mean
that "we" have church Sunday morning and thus can't join "you" then. (On
this reading, the "when"-clause is a nonrestrictive adverbial clause
commenting on "Sunday morning." "We" will come and visit some other time.
Second, (1) could mean that "we" will come and visit when "we" have
church. The implication is, of course, that "we" have church at some time
other than Sunday morning. "We" can't join "you" on Sunday morning for
some unmentioned reason, having nothing to do with our having church.
Would you agree that the semicolons below disambiguate each reading?
(1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church;
we will be sure to come and visit.
(1b) Although we can't join you Sunday morning; when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.
Thank you. : )
Neither conforms to standard usage, and both will cause your reader
to stop and try to figure out what was intended when the mistake was
typed..

Many "stylists" complain that semicolons are use far too frequently
as it is.

You can fix your "ambiguity" by rearranging the clauses.

But the second interpretation seems like quite a strange thing to say.
Metrist2021
2021-12-04 06:13:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Metrist2021
Greetings,
I recently conceived of a usage of semicolons which I don't believe I have
ever read about or have ever had a real occasion to use. Nevertheless, I
am so fond of the idea that I have deliberately created a sentence to fit
the bill. Isn't the following sentence ambiguous?
(1) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.
It seems to me that (1) allows for two interpretations. First, it could mean
that "we" have church Sunday morning and thus can't join "you" then. (On
this reading, the "when"-clause is a nonrestrictive adverbial clause
commenting on "Sunday morning." "We" will come and visit some other time.
Second, (1) could mean that "we" will come and visit when "we" have
church. The implication is, of course, that "we" have church at some time
other than Sunday morning. "We" can't join "you" on Sunday morning for
some unmentioned reason, having nothing to do with our having church.
Would you agree that the semicolons below disambiguate each reading?
(1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church;
we will be sure to come and visit.
(1b) Although we can't join you Sunday morning; when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.
Thank you. : )
Neither conforms to standard usage, and both will cause your reader
to stop and try to figure out what was intended when the mistake was
typed..
I just noticed that Thomas Gray seems to have made a similar "mistake"
in his "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard." Watch for the semicolon:

"For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead,
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall enquire thy fate,

Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
'Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away,
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.'"

If Gray's semicolon there were replaced by a comma, the reader might wrongly
suppose, even if only temporarily, that the "if"-clause was embedded in the "who"-clause.
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Many "stylists" complain that semicolons are use far too frequently
as it is.
You can fix your "ambiguity" by rearranging the clauses.
But the second interpretation seems like quite a strange thing to say.
Peter T. Daniels
2021-12-04 13:51:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Metrist2021
I recently conceived of a usage of semicolons which I don't believe I have
ever read about or have ever had a real occasion to use. Nevertheless, I
am so fond of the idea that I have deliberately created a sentence to fit
the bill. Isn't the following sentence ambiguous?
(1) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.
It seems to me that (1) allows for two interpretations. First, it could mean
that "we" have church Sunday morning and thus can't join "you" then. (On
this reading, the "when"-clause is a nonrestrictive adverbial clause
commenting on "Sunday morning." "We" will come and visit some other time.
Second, (1) could mean that "we" will come and visit when "we" have
church. The implication is, of course, that "we" have church at some time
other than Sunday morning. "We" can't join "you" on Sunday morning for
some unmentioned reason, having nothing to do with our having church.
Would you agree that the semicolons below disambiguate each reading?
(1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church;
we will be sure to come and visit.
(1b) Although we can't join you Sunday morning; when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.
Thank you. : )
Neither conforms to standard usage, and both will cause your reader
to stop and try to figure out what was intended when the mistake was
typed..
I just noticed that Thomas Gray seems to have made a similar "mistake"
"For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead,
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall enquire thy fate,
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
'Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away,
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.'"
If Gray's semicolon there were replaced by a comma, the reader might wrongly
suppose, even if only temporarily, that the "if"-clause was embedded in the "who"-clause.
(a) No, it's not the same construction at all: (b) style has changed
over nearly 300 years.
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Many "stylists" complain that semicolons are use far too frequently
as it is.
You can fix your "ambiguity" by rearranging the clauses.
But the second interpretation seems like quite a strange thing to say.
Jerry Friedman
2021-12-04 16:09:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Metrist2021
I recently conceived of a usage of semicolons which I don't
believe I have ever read about or have ever had a real occasion
to use. Nevertheless, I am so fond of the idea that I have
deliberately created a sentence to fit the bill. Isn't the
following sentence ambiguous?
(1) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have
church, we will be sure to come and visit.
It seems to me that (1) allows for two interpretations. First,
it could mean that "we" have church Sunday morning and thus
can't join "you" then. (On this reading, the "when"-clause is a
nonrestrictive adverbial clause commenting on "Sunday morning."
"We" will come and visit some other time.
Second, (1) could mean that "we" will come and visit when "we"
have church. The implication is, of course, that "we" have
church at some time other than Sunday morning. "We" can't join
"you" on Sunday morning for some unmentioned reason, having
nothing to do with our having church.
Would you agree that the semicolons below disambiguate each reading?
(1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have
church; we will be sure to come and visit. (1b) Although we
can't join you Sunday morning; when we have church, we will be
sure to come and visit.
Thank you. : )
Neither conforms to standard usage, and both will cause your
reader to stop and try to figure out what was intended when the
mistake was typed..
I just noticed that Thomas Gray seems to have made a similar
"mistake" in his "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard." Watch for
"For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead, Dost in these lines
their artless tale relate; If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall enquire thy fate,
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say, 'Oft have we seen him at the
peep of dawn Brushing with hasty steps the dews away, To meet the
sun upon the upland lawn.'"
If Gray's semicolon there were replaced by a comma, the reader
might wrongly suppose, even if only temporarily, that the
"if"-clause was embedded in the "who"-clause.
I think it's relevant to the question, though. The semicolon separates a
prepositional phrase (for thee) and its baggage (who, mindful of th'
unhonour'd dead, dost in these lines their artless tale relate) from
what I take to be the main clause. What puzzles me is whether "if
chance" could be an error, or a deliberate omission for the sake of the
metre of the pronoun "it" from "if it chance". Those last two lines
need a subject. "If [it] chance, by lonely contemplation led, [that]
some kindred spirit shall enquire thy fate, ...
...

That's what I thought, but maybe it's "if by chance," and "some
kindred spirit is the subject.

And on the original question, I can see that this proposal is consistent
with using the semicolon as a stronger comma (you might say) in
separating items of a list that contain commas, but I don't think it will
catch on.
--
Jerry Friedman
Metrist2021
2021-12-10 07:51:01 UTC
Permalink
[semicolon innovation]
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Metrist2021
I just noticed that Thomas Gray seems to have made a similar
"mistake" in his "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard." Watch for
"For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead, Dost in these lines
their artless tale relate; If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall enquire thy fate,
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say, 'Oft have we seen him at the
peep of dawn Brushing with hasty steps the dews away, To meet the
sun upon the upland lawn.'"
If Gray's semicolon there were replaced by a comma, the reader
might wrongly suppose, even if only temporarily, that the
"if"-clause was embedded in the "who"-clause.
I think it's relevant to the question, though. The semicolon separates a
prepositional phrase (for thee) and its baggage (who, mindful of th'
unhonour'd dead, dost in these lines their artless tale relate) from
what I take to be the main clause. What puzzles me is whether "if
chance" could be an error, or a deliberate omission for the sake of the
metre of the pronoun "it" from "if it chance". Those last two lines
need a subject. "If [it] chance, by lonely contemplation led, [that]
some kindred spirit shall enquire thy fate, ...
...
That's what I thought, but maybe it's "if by chance," and "some
kindred spirit
"
Post by Jerry Friedman
is the subject.
Thank you, CDB and Jerry. I've been very curious about how to interpret
"chance" there, especially since I will be endeavoring to teach the poem
(on a very basic level) to ESL students this coming week. It's a question that may arise!
...
Advanced ESL students, I hope! Though we read Corneille and Racine in
high school French.
Yes, unfortunately, it proved to be too much for them (my intermediate-high students).
I suppose I could have predicted that (I knew it was risky), but I think I needed to learn it
the hard way.
There's probably better commentary on Gray's "Elegy" than we can provide
here.
John Frederick Nims's note, in /The Harper Anthology of Poetry/, just
glosses "if chance" as "if it happens that". The OED has an adverbial sense
"By chance, perchance, haply. archaic.
In some of the examples <i>chance</i> may be a verb.
1595 ‘J. Dando’ & ‘H. Runt’ Maroccus Extaticus 20 I may chance of these and
more leave a deeper print.
1600 W. Shakespeare Henry IV, Pt. 2 ii. i. 12 It may chaunce cost some of vs
our liues.
1704 J. Swift Full Acct. Battel between Bks. in Tale of Tub 276 If chance
her Geese be scattered o'er the Common.
1818 Ld. Byron Childe Harold: Canto IV lxvii. 36 While, chance, some scatter'd
water-lily sails.
1848 J. R. Lowell Biglow Papers 1st Ser. Notices 2 Lest some mischief may
chance befall them."
Thank you for this great information. I wasn't aware that the noun "chance" had
this (seemingly archaic) adverbial potential. I did read an interesting article by
George Wright ("Stillness and the Argument of Gray's _Elegy_," 1977), in which he
speaks of "still" as having the archaic meaning or "continually" or "always" in this stanza:

"Yet ev'n these bones from insult to protect,
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture decked,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh."

Wright argues that, assuming "still" has this archaic meaning there, there is
passive progressive meaning there, even though the passive progressive isn't
actually used (being frowned upon in the 1700s). In other words, Wright reads
the line as meaning "Some frail memorial still being erected nigh" (one after another).
--
Jerry Friedman
Metrist2021
2021-12-10 08:00:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Metrist2021
I recently conceived of a usage of semicolons which I don't
believe I have ever read about or have ever had a real
occasion to use. Nevertheless, I am so fond of the idea
that I have deliberately created a sentence to fit the
bill. Isn't the following sentence ambiguous?
(1) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have
church, we will be sure to come and visit.
It seems to me that (1) allows for two interpretations.
First, it could mean that "we" have church Sunday morning
and thus can't join "you" then. (On this reading, the
"when"-clause is a nonrestrictive adverbial clause
commenting on "Sunday morning." "We" will come and visit some other time.
Second, (1) could mean that "we" will come and visit when
"we" have church. The implication is, of course, that "we"
have church at some time other than Sunday morning. "We"
can't join "you" on Sunday morning for some unmentioned
reason, having nothing to do with our having church.
Would you agree that the semicolons below disambiguate each reading?
(1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we
have church; we will be sure to come and visit. (1b)
Although we can't join you Sunday morning; when we have
church, we will be sure to come and visit.
Thank you. : )
Neither conforms to standard usage, and both will cause your
reader to stop and try to figure out what was intended when
the mistake was typed..
I just noticed that Thomas Gray seems to have made a similar
"mistake" in his "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard."
"For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead, Dost in these
lines their artless tale relate; If chance, by lonely
contemplation led, Some kindred spirit shall enquire thy fate,
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say, 'Oft have we seen him
at the peep of dawn Brushing with hasty steps the dews away,
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.'"
If Gray's semicolon there were replaced by a comma, the reader
might wrongly suppose, even if only temporarily, that the
"if"-clause was embedded in the "who"-clause.
I think it's relevant to the question, though. The semicolon
separates a prepositional phrase (for thee) and its baggage (who,
mindful of th' unhonour'd dead, dost in these lines their artless
tale relate) from what I take to be the main clause. What puzzles
me is whether "if chance" could be an error, or a deliberate
omission for the sake of the metre of the pronoun "it" from "if it
chance". Those last two lines need a subject. "If [it] chance, by
lonely contemplation led, [that] some kindred spirit shall enquire
thy fate, ...
...
That's what I thought, but maybe it's "if by chance," and "some
kindred spirit is the subject.
Agreed. I picked "if it" because it seemed the easier mistake to make.
Post by Jerry Friedman
And on the original question, I can see that this proposal is
consistent with using the semicolon as a stronger comma (you might
say) in separating items of a list that contain commas, but I don't
think it will catch on.
They don't teach grammar any more, I hear.
I realized that I could make a similar case for the semicolon in the following:

(2) On ice cream, hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.

Doesn't that look and sound absurdly ungrammatical at first? It is as if a prepositional
phrase were trying to function as the sentence subject -- a prepositional phrase
with a compound object, consisting of four coordinated noun phrases. A
semicolon would make the intended reading clear, but I can't say I like the look of it:

(3) On ice cream; hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.

There, it is clear that the meaning is this: "Hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream
are delicious on ice cream." The prepositional phrase has been fronted, and, in
order for it to be obviously distinct from the compound sentence subject that follows,
stronger punctuation is needed. I can't think of a better punctuation mark than the semicolon.

Still, the semicolon looks weird in (3), doesn't it? Can it really be called wrong, though? : )
Athel Cornish-Bowden
2021-12-10 08:15:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Metrist2021
I recently conceived of a usage of semicolons which I don't
believe I have ever read about or have ever had a real
occasion to use. Nevertheless, I am so fond of the idea
that I have deliberately created a sentence to fit the
bill. Isn't the following sentence ambiguous?
(1) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have
church, we will be sure to come and visit.
It seems to me that (1) allows for two interpretations.
First, it could mean that "we" have church Sunday morning
and thus can't join "you" then. (On this reading, the
"when"-clause is a nonrestrictive adverbial clause
commenting on "Sunday morning." "We" will come and visit some other time.
Second, (1) could mean that "we" will come and visit when
"we" have church. The implication is, of course, that "we"
have church at some time other than Sunday morning. "We"
can't join "you" on Sunday morning for some unmentioned
reason, having nothing to do with our having church.
Would you agree that the semicolons below disambiguate each reading?
(1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we
have church; we will be sure to come and visit. (1b)
Although we can't join you Sunday morning; when we have
church, we will be sure to come and visit.
Thank you. : )
Neither conforms to standard usage, and both will cause your
reader to stop and try to figure out what was intended when
the mistake was typed..
I just noticed that Thomas Gray seems to have made a similar
"mistake" in his "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard."
"For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead, Dost in these
lines their artless tale relate; If chance, by lonely
contemplation led, Some kindred spirit shall enquire thy fate,
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say, 'Oft have we seen him
at the peep of dawn Brushing with hasty steps the dews away,
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.'"
If Gray's semicolon there were replaced by a comma, the reader
might wrongly suppose, even if only temporarily, that the
"if"-clause was embedded in the "who"-clause.
I think it's relevant to the question, though. The semicolon
separates a prepositional phrase (for thee) and its baggage (who,
mindful of th' unhonour'd dead, dost in these lines their artless
tale relate) from what I take to be the main clause. What puzzles
me is whether "if chance" could be an error, or a deliberate
omission for the sake of the metre of the pronoun "it" from "if it
chance". Those last two lines need a subject. "If [it] chance, by
lonely contemplation led, [that] some kindred spirit shall enquire
thy fate, ...
...
That's what I thought, but maybe it's "if by chance," and "some
kindred spirit is the subject.
Agreed. I picked "if it" because it seemed the easier mistake to make.
Post by Jerry Friedman
And on the original question, I can see that this proposal is
consistent with using the semicolon as a stronger comma (you might
say) in separating items of a list that contain commas, but I don't
think it will catch on.
They don't teach grammar any more, I hear.
(2) On ice cream, hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.
Doesn't that look and sound absurdly ungrammatical at first? It is as if a prepositional
phrase were trying to function as the sentence subject -- a
prepositional phrase
with a compound object, consisting of four coordinated noun phrases. A
(3) On ice cream; hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.
The semicolon doesn't save a ridiculous sentence that looks like one of
Navi's. Why not write it in a straightforward way: hot fudge, caramel
and whipped cream are delicious on ice cream. (We won't worry about
whether it's true or not: to me it sounds, in part, revolting.)
Post by Metrist2021
There, it is clear that the meaning is this: "Hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream
are delicious on ice cream." The prepositional phrase has been fronted, and, in
order for it to be obviously distinct from the compound sentence subject that follows,
stronger punctuation is needed. I can't think of a better punctuation
mark than the semicolon.
Still, the semicolon looks weird in (3), doesn't it? Can it really be
called wrong, though? : )
--
Athel -- French and British, living mainly in England until 1987.
Metrist2021
2021-12-10 08:27:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Metrist2021
I recently conceived of a usage of semicolons which I don't
believe I have ever read about or have ever had a real
occasion to use. Nevertheless, I am so fond of the idea
that I have deliberately created a sentence to fit the
bill. Isn't the following sentence ambiguous?
(1) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have
church, we will be sure to come and visit.
It seems to me that (1) allows for two interpretations.
First, it could mean that "we" have church Sunday morning
and thus can't join "you" then. (On this reading, the
"when"-clause is a nonrestrictive adverbial clause
commenting on "Sunday morning." "We" will come and visit some other time.
Second, (1) could mean that "we" will come and visit when
"we" have church. The implication is, of course, that "we"
have church at some time other than Sunday morning. "We"
can't join "you" on Sunday morning for some unmentioned
reason, having nothing to do with our having church.
Would you agree that the semicolons below disambiguate each reading?
(1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we
have church; we will be sure to come and visit. (1b)
Although we can't join you Sunday morning; when we have
church, we will be sure to come and visit.
Thank you. : )
Neither conforms to standard usage, and both will cause your
reader to stop and try to figure out what was intended when
the mistake was typed..
I just noticed that Thomas Gray seems to have made a similar
"mistake" in his "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard."
"For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead, Dost in these
lines their artless tale relate; If chance, by lonely
contemplation led, Some kindred spirit shall enquire thy fate,
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say, 'Oft have we seen him
at the peep of dawn Brushing with hasty steps the dews away,
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.'"
If Gray's semicolon there were replaced by a comma, the reader
might wrongly suppose, even if only temporarily, that the
"if"-clause was embedded in the "who"-clause.
I think it's relevant to the question, though. The semicolon
separates a prepositional phrase (for thee) and its baggage (who,
mindful of th' unhonour'd dead, dost in these lines their artless
tale relate) from what I take to be the main clause. What puzzles
me is whether "if chance" could be an error, or a deliberate
omission for the sake of the metre of the pronoun "it" from "if it
chance". Those last two lines need a subject. "If [it] chance, by
lonely contemplation led, [that] some kindred spirit shall enquire
thy fate, ...
...
That's what I thought, but maybe it's "if by chance," and "some
kindred spirit is the subject.
Agreed. I picked "if it" because it seemed the easier mistake to make.
Post by Jerry Friedman
And on the original question, I can see that this proposal is
consistent with using the semicolon as a stronger comma (you might
say) in separating items of a list that contain commas, but I don't
think it will catch on.
They don't teach grammar any more, I hear.
(2) On ice cream, hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.
Doesn't that look and sound absurdly ungrammatical at first? It is as
if a prepositional
phrase were trying to function as the sentence subject -- a
prepositional phrase
with a compound object, consisting of four coordinated noun phrases. A
(3) On ice cream; hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.
The semicolon doesn't save a ridiculous sentence that looks like one of
Navi's. Why not write it in a straightforward way: hot fudge, caramel
and whipped cream are delicious on ice cream. (We won't worry about
whether it's true or not: to me it sounds, in part, revolting.)
Thanks, Athel. It's the sentence recipe that interests me here, not the
ice cream one. That's just the first example that I cooked with my sentence
recipe, with which I can cook up a lot more examples of the type.

We can certainly call the version with the prepositional phrase at the end
"straightforward," but I think you'll agree that in speech, the fronting of such
phrases, even with compound subjects following, can sound natural. How about this?

(4) Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.

versus

(5) Under John, Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive under work.
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
There, it is clear that the meaning is this: "Hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream
are delicious on ice cream." The prepositional phrase has been fronted, and, in
order for it to be obviously distinct from the compound sentence subject that follows,
stronger punctuation is needed. I can't think of a better punctuation
mark than the semicolon.
Still, the semicolon looks weird in (3), doesn't it? Can it really be
called wrong, though? : )
--
Athel -- French and British, living mainly in England until 1987.
Peter T. Daniels
2021-12-10 14:48:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
(2) On ice cream, hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.
Doesn't that look and sound absurdly ungrammatical at first? It is as
if a prepositional
phrase were trying to function as the sentence subject -- a prepositional phrase
with a compound object, consisting of four coordinated noun phrases. A
semicolon would make the intended reading clear, but I can't say I like
(3) On ice cream; hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.
The semicolon doesn't save a ridiculous sentence that looks like one of
Navi's. Why not write it in a straightforward way: hot fudge, caramel
and whipped cream are delicious on ice cream. (We won't worry about
whether it's true or not: to me it sounds, in part, revolting.)
I doubt that he intended all three toppings to be used simultaneously
(whipped cream goes with either of the others, but the others don't go
with each other), but the sentence certainly does invite that interpretation.
Post by Metrist2021
Thanks, Athel. It's the sentence recipe that interests me here, not the
ice cream one. That's just the first example that I cooked with my sentence
recipe, with which I can cook up a lot more examples of the type.
We can certainly call the version with the prepositional phrase at the end
"straightforward," but I think you'll agree that in speech, the fronting of such
phrases, even with compound subjects following, can sound natural. How about this?
(4) Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
versus
(5) Under John, Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive under work.
You just CAN'T do that, because the semicolon tells you to read it, even
in your mind's ear, with the rising intonation of the first of at least two
clauses. Such an intonation IS NOT used with prepositional phrases.
Metrist2021
2021-12-10 18:39:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
(2) On ice cream, hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.
Doesn't that look and sound absurdly ungrammatical at first? It is as
if a prepositional
phrase were trying to function as the sentence subject -- a
prepositional phrase
with a compound object, consisting of four coordinated noun phrases. A
semicolon would make the intended reading clear, but I can't say I like
(3) On ice cream; hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.
The semicolon doesn't save a ridiculous sentence that looks like one of
Navi's. Why not write it in a straightforward way: hot fudge, caramel
and whipped cream are delicious on ice cream. (We won't worry about
whether it's true or not: to me it sounds, in part, revolting.)
I doubt that he intended all three toppings to be used simultaneously
(whipped cream goes with either of the others, but the others don't go
with each other), but the sentence certainly does invite that interpretation.
Post by Metrist2021
Thanks, Athel. It's the sentence recipe that interests me here, not the
ice cream one. That's just the first example that I cooked with my sentence
recipe, with which I can cook up a lot more examples of the type.
We can certainly call the version with the prepositional phrase at the end
"straightforward," but I think you'll agree that in speech, the fronting of such
phrases, even with compound subjects following, can sound natural. How about this?
(4) Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
versus
(5) Under John, Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive under work.
You just CAN'T do that, because the semicolon tells you to read it, even
in your mind's ear, with the rising intonation of the first of at least two
clauses. Such an intonation IS NOT used with prepositional phrases.
If the semicolon can't do the job, what mark of punctuation can? We know that
a sentence like that works in live speech. There is a slightly longer pause between
"John" and "Tony" than there is between "Tony" and "Bill" and between "Bill" and "Steve."
If we say it's un-punctuate-able, what if it were for a printed record of live speech? Let's
look at our "options." Which one is the best? I think (8) might be, but it's archaic, isn't it?

(4) Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
(8) Under John: Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
(6) Under John . . . Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
(7) Under John—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
(8) Under John,—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
Athel Cornish-Bowden
2021-12-10 18:47:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
On Friday, December 10, 2021 at 3:28:01 AM UTC-5, Metrist2021 wrote:> >
On Friday, December 10, 2021 at 12:15:30 AM UTC-8, Athel Cornish-Bowden
wrote:> > > On 2021-12-10 08:00:07 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> > > > I
realized that I could make a similar case for the semicolon in the
following:> > > > (2) On ice cream, hot fudge, caramel, and whipped
cream are delicious.> > > > Doesn't that look and sound absurdly
ungrammatical at first? It is as> > > > if a prepositional> > > >
phrase were trying to function as the sentence subject -- a> > > >
prepositional phrase> > > > with a compound object, consisting of four
coordinated noun phrases. A> > > > semicolon would make the intended
reading clear, but I can't say I like> > > > the look of it:> > > > (3)
On ice cream; hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.> > >
The semicolon doesn't save a ridiculous sentence that looks like one
of> > > Navi's. Why not write it in a straightforward way: hot fudge,
caramel> > > and whipped cream are delicious on ice cream. (We won't
worry about> > > whether it's true or not: to me it sounds, in part,
revolting.)
I doubt that he intended all three toppings to be used simultaneously>
(whipped cream goes with either of the others, but the others don't go>
with each other), but the sentence certainly does invite that
interpretation.
Post by Metrist2021
Thanks, Athel. It's the sentence recipe that interests me here, not
the> > ice cream one. That's just the first example that I cooked with
my sentence> > recipe, with which I can cook up a lot more examples of
the type.> >> > We can certainly call the version with the
prepositional phrase at the end> > "straightforward," but I think
you'll agree that in speech, the fronting of such> > phrases, even with
compound subjects following, can sound natural. How about this?> >> >
(4) Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at
work.> >> > versus> >> > (5) Under John, Tony, Bill, and Steve will
surely be more productive under work.
You just CAN'T do that, because the semicolon tells you to read it,
even> in your mind's ear, with the rising intonation of the first of at
least two> clauses. Such an intonation IS NOT used with prepositional
phrases.
If the semicolon can't do the job, what mark of punctuation can? We
know thata sentence like that works in live speech. There is a slightly
longer pause between"John" and "Tony" than there is between "Tony" and
"Bill" and between "Bill" and "Steve."
If we say it's un-punctuate-able, what if it were for a printed record
of live speech? Let'slook at our "options." Which one is the best? I
think (8) might be, but it's archaic, isn't it?
(4) Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
(8) Under John: Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at
work.(6) Under John . . . Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more
productive at work.
(7) Under John—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
(8) Under John,—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
They're all hopeless.

You can't fix a bad sentence with punctuation. You need to fix it so
that it's not a bad sentence.
--
Athel -- French and British, living mainly in England until 1987.
bil...@shaw.ca
2021-12-10 19:05:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
On Friday, December 10, 2021 at 3:28:01 AM UTC-5, Metrist2021 wrote:> >
On Friday, December 10, 2021 at 12:15:30 AM UTC-8, Athel Cornish-Bowden
wrote:> > > On 2021-12-10 08:00:07 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> > > > I
realized that I could make a similar case for the semicolon in the
following:> > > > (2) On ice cream, hot fudge, caramel, and whipped
cream are delicious.> > > > Doesn't that look and sound absurdly
ungrammatical at first? It is as> > > > if a prepositional> > > >
phrase were trying to function as the sentence subject -- a> > > >
prepositional phrase> > > > with a compound object, consisting of four
coordinated noun phrases. A> > > > semicolon would make the intended
reading clear, but I can't say I like> > > > the look of it:> > > > (3)
On ice cream; hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.> > >
The semicolon doesn't save a ridiculous sentence that looks like one
of> > > Navi's. Why not write it in a straightforward way: hot fudge,
caramel> > > and whipped cream are delicious on ice cream. (We won't
worry about> > > whether it's true or not: to me it sounds, in part,
revolting.)
I doubt that he intended all three toppings to be used simultaneously>
(whipped cream goes with either of the others, but the others don't go>
with each other), but the sentence certainly does invite that interpretation.
Post by Metrist2021
Thanks, Athel. It's the sentence recipe that interests me here, not
the> > ice cream one. That's just the first example that I cooked with
my sentence> > recipe, with which I can cook up a lot more examples of
the type.> >> > We can certainly call the version with the
prepositional phrase at the end> > "straightforward," but I think
you'll agree that in speech, the fronting of such> > phrases, even with
compound subjects following, can sound natural. How about this?> >> >
(4) Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at
work.> >> > versus> >> > (5) Under John, Tony, Bill, and Steve will
surely be more productive under work.
You just CAN'T do that, because the semicolon tells you to read it,
even> in your mind's ear, with the rising intonation of the first of at
least two> clauses. Such an intonation IS NOT used with prepositional
phrases.
If the semicolon can't do the job, what mark of punctuation can? We
know thata sentence like that works in live speech. There is a slightly
longer pause between"John" and "Tony" than there is between "Tony" and
"Bill" and between "Bill" and "Steve."
If we say it's un-punctuate-able, what if it were for a printed record
of live speech? Let'slook at our "options." Which one is the best? I
think (8) might be, but it's archaic, isn't it?
(4) Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
(8) Under John: Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at
work.(6) Under John . . . Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more
productive at work.
(7) Under John—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
(8) Under John,—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
They're all hopeless.
You can't fix a bad sentence with punctuation. You need to fix it so
that it's not a bad sentence.
Exactly. One way to do that is to turn it around. "Tony, Bill and Steve will surely
be more productive working under John."

bill
Peter Moylan
2021-12-11 00:15:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
If the semicolon can't do the job, what mark of punctuation can? We
know thata sentence like that works in live speech. There is a slightly
longer pause between"John" and "Tony" than there is between "Tony" and
"Bill" and between "Bill" and "Steve."
If we say it's un-punctuate-able, what if it were for a printed record
of live speech? Let'slook at our "options." Which one is the best? I
think (8) might be, but it's archaic, isn't it?
(4) Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
(8) Under John: Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at
work.(6) Under John . . . Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more
productive at work.
(7) Under John—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
(8) Under John,—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
They're all hopeless.
You can't fix a bad sentence with punctuation. You need to fix it so
that it's not a bad sentence.
What's bad about it? As a native speaker, I can say that it works perfectly in live speech.
In speech, we manage to express the subject of the second clause as a
single unit. We don't have any punctuation marks to do that. The best I
can do is

Under John, TonyBillandSteve will surely be more productive at work.

Notice that the pause after John is a normal comma pause. What we are
lacking is a punctuation mark to indicate a "pause" shorter than an
inter-word gap.

It's still not a good sentence, but it often happens that something that
looks bad in writing will be found acceptable if spoken with the right
intonation.
--
Peter Moylan Newcastle, NSW http://www.pmoylan.org
Metrist2021
2021-12-11 03:13:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter Moylan
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
If the semicolon can't do the job, what mark of punctuation can? We
know thata sentence like that works in live speech. There is a slightly
longer pause between"John" and "Tony" than there is between "Tony" and
"Bill" and between "Bill" and "Steve."
If we say it's un-punctuate-able, what if it were for a printed record
of live speech? Let'slook at our "options." Which one is the best? I
think (8) might be, but it's archaic, isn't it?
(4) Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
(8) Under John: Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at
work.(6) Under John . . . Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more
productive at work.
(7) Under John—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
(8) Under John,—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
They're all hopeless.
You can't fix a bad sentence with punctuation. You need to fix it so
that it's not a bad sentence.
What's bad about it? As a native speaker, I can say that it works perfectly in live speech.
In speech, we manage to express the subject of the second clause as a
single unit. We don't have any punctuation marks to do that. The best I
can do is
Under John, TonyBillandSteve will surely be more productive at work.
Thanks, Peter. That's funny. It has inspired another idea for me: italics.Too bad
we can't use them on this forum. I just tried it in Word; I think it almost works.

<i>Under John</i>, Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
Post by Peter Moylan
Notice that the pause after John is a normal comma pause. What we are
lacking is a punctuation mark to indicate a "pause" shorter than an
inter-word gap.
It's still not a good sentence, but it often happens that something that
looks bad in writing will be found acceptable if spoken with the right
intonation.
--
Peter Moylan Newcastle, NSW http://www.pmoylan.org
Athel Cornish-Bowden
2021-12-11 09:27:40 UTC
Permalink
On 11/12/21 06:51, Metrist2021 wrote:> > On Friday, December 10, 2021
at 10:47:50 AM UTC-8, Athel Cornish-Bowden wrote:> >> On 2021-12-10
18:39:55 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> >>> If the semicolon can't do the
job, what mark of punctuation can? We> >>> know thata sentence like
that works in live speech. There is a slightly> >>> longer pause
between"John" and "Tony" than there is between "Tony" and> >>> "Bill"
and between "Bill" and "Steve."> >>> If we say it's un-punctuate-able,
what if it were for a printed record> >>> of live speech? Let'slook at
our "options." Which one is the best? I> >>> think (8) might be, but
it's archaic, isn't it?> >>>> >>> (4) Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve
will surely be more productive at work.> >>> (8) Under John: Tony,
Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at> >>> work.(6) Under
John . . . Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more> >>> productive at
work.> >>> (7) Under John—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more
productive at work.> >>> (8) Under John,—Tony, Bill, and Steve will
surely be more productive at work.> >> They're all hopeless.> >>> >>
You can't fix a bad sentence with punctuation. You need to fix it so>
that it's not a bad sentence.> >> > What's bad about it? As a native
speaker, I can say that it works perfectly in live speech.
In speech, we manage to express the subject of the second clause as a>
single unit. We don't have any punctuation marks to do that. The best
I> can do is>> Under John, TonyBillandSteve will surely be more
productive at work.
italics.Too badwe can't use them on this forum. I just tried it in
Word; I think it almost works.
<i>Under John</i>, Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
You just don't get it, do you. You can use italics, bold, bold-italics,
upper-case, small caps, underlining, double underlining, quotation
marks, 36-pt type, whatever you like. None of these will transform a
bad sentence into a good one.
Notice that the pause after John is a normal comma pause. What we are>
lacking is a punctuation mark to indicate a "pause" shorter than an>
inter-word gap.>> It's still not a good sentence, but it often happens
that something that> looks bad in writing will be found acceptable if
spoken with the right> intonation.
--
Peter Moylan Newcastle, NSW http://www.pmoylan.org
--
Athel -- French and British, living mainly in England until 1987.
Peter T. Daniels
2021-12-11 22:04:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
On 11/12/21 06:51, Metrist2021 wrote:> > On Friday, December 10, 2021
at 10:47:50 AM UTC-8, Athel Cornish-Bowden wrote:> >> On 2021-12-10
18:39:55 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> >>> If the semicolon can't do the
job, what mark of punctuation can? We> >>> know thata sentence like
that works in live speech. There is a slightly> >>> longer pause
between"John" and "Tony" than there is between "Tony" and> >>> "Bill"
and between "Bill" and "Steve."> >>> If we say it's un-punctuate-able,
what if it were for a printed record> >>> of live speech? Let'slook at
our "options." Which one is the best? I> >>> think (8) might be, but
it's archaic, isn't it?> >>>> >>> (4) Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve
will surely be more productive at work.> >>> (8) Under John: Tony,
Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at> >>> work.(6) Under
John . . . Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more> >>> productive at
work.> >>> (7) Under John—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more
productive at work.> >>> (8) Under John,—Tony, Bill, and Steve will
surely be more productive at work.> >> They're all hopeless.> >>> >>
You can't fix a bad sentence with punctuation. You need to fix it so>
that it's not a bad sentence.> >> > What's bad about it? As a native
speaker, I can say that it works perfectly in live speech.
In speech, we manage to express the subject of the second clause as a>
single unit. We don't have any punctuation marks to do that. The best
I> can do is>> Under John, TonyBillandSteve will surely be more
productive at work.
italics.Too badwe can't use them on this forum. I just tried it in
Word; I think it almost works.
<i>Under John</i>, Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
You just don't get it, do you. You can use italics, bold, bold-italics,
upper-case, small caps, underlining, double underlining, quotation
marks, 36-pt type, whatever you like. None of these will transform a
bad sentence into a good one.
You still haven't answered my question "What's bad about the sentence?"
Your proclaiming it bad doesn't make it bad. Others here accept the sentence.
Have you tried saying it aloud? There is nothing wrong with it. As I told Peter
Daniels, if it can't be punctuated, that is not the sentence's problem; it is a
problem with our system of punctuation. I can keep manufacturing other examples
that follow the same syntactic pattern if you like. Maybe you don't like examples
that have to do with sundaes or with management at a place of work. Other topics exist.
You chose to ignore my closing paragraph, which pointed out that (once
we get past the BAD WRITING, i.e. putting down a garden-path sentence)
it is NOT POSSIBLE to interpret the sentence in any but the intended way.
Metrist2021
2021-12-12 00:08:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
On 11/12/21 06:51, Metrist2021 wrote:> > On Friday, December 10, 2021
at 10:47:50 AM UTC-8, Athel Cornish-Bowden wrote:> >> On 2021-12-10
18:39:55 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> >>> If the semicolon can't do the
job, what mark of punctuation can? We> >>> know thata sentence like
that works in live speech. There is a slightly> >>> longer pause
between"John" and "Tony" than there is between "Tony" and> >>> "Bill"
and between "Bill" and "Steve."> >>> If we say it's un-punctuate-able,
what if it were for a printed record> >>> of live speech? Let'slook at
our "options." Which one is the best? I> >>> think (8) might be, but
it's archaic, isn't it?> >>>> >>> (4) Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve
will surely be more productive at work.> >>> (8) Under John: Tony,
Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at> >>> work.(6) Under
John . . . Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more> >>> productive at
work.> >>> (7) Under John—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more
productive at work.> >>> (8) Under John,—Tony, Bill, and Steve will
surely be more productive at work.> >> They're all hopeless.> >>> >>
You can't fix a bad sentence with punctuation. You need to fix it so>
that it's not a bad sentence.> >> > What's bad about it? As a native
speaker, I can say that it works perfectly in live speech.
In speech, we manage to express the subject of the second clause as a>
single unit. We don't have any punctuation marks to do that. The best
I> can do is>> Under John, TonyBillandSteve will surely be more
productive at work.
italics.Too badwe can't use them on this forum. I just tried it in
Word; I think it almost works.
<i>Under John</i>, Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive
at work.
You just don't get it, do you. You can use italics, bold, bold-italics,
upper-case, small caps, underlining, double underlining, quotation
marks, 36-pt type, whatever you like. None of these will transform a
bad sentence into a good one.
You still haven't answered my question "What's bad about the sentence?"
Your proclaiming it bad doesn't make it bad. Others here accept the sentence.
Have you tried saying it aloud? There is nothing wrong with it. As I told Peter
Daniels, if it can't be punctuated, that is not the sentence's problem; it is a
problem with our system of punctuation. I can keep manufacturing other examples
that follow the same syntactic pattern if you like. Maybe you don't like examples
that have to do with sundaes or with management at a place of work. Other topics exist.
You chose to ignore my closing paragraph, which pointed out that (once
we get past the BAD WRITING, i.e. putting down a garden-path sentence)
it is NOT POSSIBLE to interpret the sentence in any but the intended way.
I realize that the sentence can't be interpreted otherwise than as intended; however, that
does not solve the problem of there being a garden path in the printed sentence --
one which is not present in the spoken sentence -- on account of limited punctuation options.
The sentence is PERFECTLY GOOD, even if our system of punctuation can't handle it.

Again, I can give additional examples if you don't like the words of the example. The syntactic formula is:
[fronted adverbial PP] + [compound subject with more than two NPs] + predicate minus the fronted PP

Do you wish to assert that that formula will ALWAYS yield a bad sentence? If so, do you wish to
claim that for both spoken and written English, or only for written English?
Athel Cornish-Bowden
2021-12-12 10:27:32 UTC
Permalink
On 2021-12-11 03:13:50 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> > On Friday, December
10, 2021 at 4:15:48 PM UTC-8, Peter Moylan wrote:> >> On 11/12/21
06:51, Metrist2021 wrote:> > On Friday, December 10, 2021> >> at
10:47:50 AM UTC-8, Athel Cornish-Bowden wrote:> >> On 2021-12-10> >>
18:39:55 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> >>> If the semicolon can't do the>
job, what mark of punctuation can? We> >>> know thata sentence like>
that works in live speech. There is a slightly> >>> longer pause> >>
between"John" and "Tony" than there is between "Tony" and> >>> "Bill">
and between "Bill" and "Steve."> >>> If we say it's
un-punctuate-able,> >> what if it were for a printed record> >>> of
live speech? Let'slook at> >> our "options." Which one is the best? I>
think (8) might be, but> >> it's archaic, isn't it?> >>>> >>> (4)
Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve> >> will surely be more productive at
work.> >>> (8) Under John: Tony,> >> Bill, and Steve will surely be
more productive at> >>> work.(6) Under> >> John . . . Tony, Bill, and
Steve will surely be more> >>> productive at> >> work.> >>> (7) Under
John—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more> >> productive at work.>
(8) Under John,—Tony, Bill, and Steve will> >> surely be more
productive at work.> >> They're all hopeless.> >>> >>> >> You can't fix
a bad sentence with punctuation. You need to fix it so>> >> >> that
it's not a bad sentence.> >> > What's bad about it? As a native> >>
speaker, I can say that it works perfectly in live speech.> >> In
speech, we manage to express the subject of the second clause as a>> >>
single unit. We don't have any punctuation marks to do that. The best>
I> can do is>> Under John, TonyBillandSteve will surely be more> >>
productive at work.> > Thanks, Peter. That's funny. It has inspired
italics.Too badwe can't use them on this forum. I just tried it in
Word; I think it almost works.> >> > <i>Under John</i>, Tony, Bill, and
Steve will surely be more productive> > at work.
You just don't get it, do you. You can use italics, bold,
bold-italics,> upper-case, small caps, underlining, double underlining,
quotation> marks, 36-pt type, whatever you like. None of these will
transform a> bad sentence into a good one.
You still haven't answered my question "What's bad about the sentence?"
I refer you to Louis Armstrong's remark about jazz: "If you have to ask
what jazz is, you'll never know."
Your proclaiming it bad doesn't make it bad. Others here accept the sentence.
Who, for example? Not PTD, I think. He and I don't always agree about
everything, but here we do, I think.
Have you tried saying it aloud?
When you read an article in the New Yorker, say, or any other
publication that employs competent writers, do you have to read it out
loud to make sense of it?
There is nothing wrong with it. As I told Peter
Daniels, if it can't be punctuated, that is not the sentence's problem;
it is aproblem with our system of punctuation. I can keep manufacturing
other examples
that follow the same syntactic pattern if you like.
Instead of inventing examples à la Navi, what about a relevant
quotation from a well known stylist? Did Hemingway ever write a
sentence like this? Charles Dickens? Mark Twain? Even J. K. Rowling, if
you want to to be right up to date?
Maybe you don't like examples
that have to do with sundaes or with management at a place of work.
Other topics exist.
Notice that the pause after John is a normal comma pause. What we are>>
Post by Peter Moylan
lacking is a punctuation mark to indicate a "pause" shorter than
an>> >> inter-word gap.>> It's still not a good sentence, but it often
happens> >> that something that> looks bad in writing will be found
acceptable if> >> spoken with the right> intonation.> >> --> >> Peter
Moylan Newcastle, NSW http://www.pmoylan.org
--
Athel -- French and British, living mainly in England until 1987.
--
Athel -- French and British, living mainly in England until 1987.
Metrist2021
2021-12-14 04:31:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
On 2021-12-11 03:13:50 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> > On Friday, December
10, 2021 at 4:15:48 PM UTC-8, Peter Moylan wrote:> >> On 11/12/21
06:51, Metrist2021 wrote:> > On Friday, December 10, 2021> >> at
10:47:50 AM UTC-8, Athel Cornish-Bowden wrote:> >> On 2021-12-10> >>
18:39:55 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> >>> If the semicolon can't do the>
job, what mark of punctuation can? We> >>> know thata sentence like>
that works in live speech. There is a slightly> >>> longer pause> >>
between"John" and "Tony" than there is between "Tony" and> >>> "Bill">
and between "Bill" and "Steve."> >>> If we say it's
un-punctuate-able,> >> what if it were for a printed record> >>> of
live speech? Let'slook at> >> our "options." Which one is the best? I>
think (8) might be, but> >> it's archaic, isn't it?> >>>> >>> (4)
Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve> >> will surely be more productive at
work.> >>> (8) Under John: Tony,> >> Bill, and Steve will surely be
more productive at> >>> work.(6) Under> >> John . . . Tony, Bill, and
Steve will surely be more> >>> productive at> >> work.> >>> (7) Under
John—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more> >> productive at work.>
(8) Under John,—Tony, Bill, and Steve will> >> surely be more
productive at work.> >> They're all hopeless.> >>> >>> >> You can't fix
a bad sentence with punctuation. You need to fix it so>> >> >> that
it's not a bad sentence.> >> > What's bad about it? As a native> >>
speaker, I can say that it works perfectly in live speech.> >> In
speech, we manage to express the subject of the second clause as a>> >>
single unit. We don't have any punctuation marks to do that. The best>
I> can do is>> Under John, TonyBillandSteve will surely be more> >>
productive at work.> > Thanks, Peter. That's funny. It has inspired
italics.Too badwe can't use them on this forum. I just tried it in
Word; I think it almost works.> >> > <i>Under John</i>, Tony, Bill, and
Steve will surely be more productive> > at work.
You just don't get it, do you. You can use italics, bold,
bold-italics,> upper-case, small caps, underlining, double underlining,
quotation> marks, 36-pt type, whatever you like. None of these will
transform a> bad sentence into a good one.
You still haven't answered my question "What's bad about the sentence?"
I refer you to Louis Armstrong's remark about jazz: "If you have to ask
what jazz is, you'll never know."
Your proclaiming it bad doesn't make it bad. Others here accept the sentence.
Who, for example? Not PTD, I think. He and I don't always agree about
everything, but here we do, I think.
Well, I have to admit that I seem to have had in mind the first example set (with
successive subordinate clauses preceding the main clause) in saying that
"[o]thers here accept the sentence"; however, I believe that Peter Moylan's
December 10 post, in which he offered the "TonyBillandSteve" mishmash,
suggests that he is OK with the sentence in spoken English -- though he does
go on to say, "It's still not a good sentence." So, I guess I'm still trying to sell it.

Let's try one more example containing the formula, but we'll build up to it step by step:

(9) Shoes, golfballs, and books were found amid the waste.
(9a) Amid the waste, shoes were found.
(9b) Amid the waste, shoes and golfballs were found.
(9c) Amid the waste, shoes, golfballs, and books were found.

If you're OK with (9), (9a), and (9b), then why reject (9c)? Why not find a better way to punctuate it?
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Have you tried saying it aloud?
When you read an article in the New Yorker, say, or any other
publication that employs competent writers, do you have to read it out
loud to make sense of it?
There is nothing wrong with it. As I told Peter
Daniels, if it can't be punctuated, that is not the sentence's problem;
it is aproblem with our system of punctuation. I can keep manufacturing
other examples
that follow the same syntactic pattern if you like.
Instead of inventing examples à la Navi, what about a relevant
quotation from a well known stylist? Did Hemingway ever write a
sentence like this? Charles Dickens? Mark Twain? Even J. K. Rowling, if
you want to to be right up to date?
Maybe you don't like examples
that have to do with sundaes or with management at a place of work.
Other topics exist.
Notice that the pause after John is a normal comma pause. What we are>>
Post by Peter Moylan
lacking is a punctuation mark to indicate a "pause" shorter than
an>> >> inter-word gap.>> It's still not a good sentence, but it often
happens> >> that something that> looks bad in writing will be found
acceptable if> >> spoken with the right> intonation.> >> --> >> Peter
Moylan Newcastle, NSW http://www.pmoylan.org
--
Athel -- French and British, living mainly in England until 1987.
--
Athel -- French and British, living mainly in England until 1987.
Athel Cornish-Bowden
2021-12-14 09:50:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
On 2021-12-11 20:45:58 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> > On Saturday,
December 11, 2021 at 1:27:45 AM UTC-8, Athel Cornish-Bowden wrote:> >>
On 2021-12-11 03:13:50 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> > On Friday,
December> >> 10, 2021 at 4:15:48 PM UTC-8, Peter Moylan wrote:> >> On
11/12/21> >> 06:51, Metrist2021 wrote:> > On Friday, December 10, 2021>
at> >> 10:47:50 AM UTC-8, Athel Cornish-Bowden wrote:> >> On
2021-12-10> >>> >> 18:39:55 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> >>> If the
semicolon can't do the>> >> >> job, what mark of punctuation can? We>
know thata sentence like>> >> >> that works in live speech. There
is a slightly> >>> longer pause> >>> >> between"John" and "Tony" than
there is between "Tony" and> >>> "Bill">> >> >> and between "Bill" and
"Steve."> >>> If we say it's> >> un-punctuate-able,> >> what if it were
for a printed record> >>> of> >> live speech? Let'slook at> >> our
"options." Which one is the best? I>> >> >>> think (8) might be, but>
it's archaic, isn't it?> >>>> >>> (4)> >> Under John; Tony, Bill,
and Steve> >> will surely be more productive at> >> work.> >>> (8)
Under John: Tony,> >> Bill, and Steve will surely be> >> more
productive at> >>> work.(6) Under> >> John . . . Tony, Bill, and> >>
Steve will surely be more> >>> productive at> >> work.> >>> (7) Under>
John—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more> >> productive at
work.>> >> >>> (8) Under John,—Tony, Bill, and Steve will> >> surely be
more> >> productive at work.> >> They're all hopeless.> >>> >>> >> You
can't fix> >> a bad sentence with punctuation. You need to fix it so>>
that> >> it's not a bad sentence.> >> > What's bad about it? As a
native> >>> >> speaker, I can say that it works perfectly in live
speech.> >> In> >> speech, we manage to express the subject of the
second clause as a>> >>> >> single unit. We don't have any punctuation
marks to do that. The best>> >> >> I> can do is>> Under John,
TonyBillandSteve will surely be more> >>> >> productive at work.> >
Thanks, Peter. That's funny. It has inspired> >> another idea for me:>
italics.Too badwe can't use them on this forum. I just tried it in>
Word; I think it almost works.> >> > <i>Under John</i>, Tony, Bill,
and> >>> Steve will surely be more productive> > at work.> >> You just
don't get it, do you. You can use italics, bold,> >> bold-italics,>
upper-case, small caps, underlining, double underlining,> >> quotation>
marks, 36-pt type, whatever you like. None of these will> >> transform
a> bad sentence into a good one.> >> > You still haven't answered my
question "What's bad about the sentence?"
I refer you to Louis Armstrong's remark about jazz: "If you have to
ask> what jazz is, you'll never know."
Your proclaiming it bad doesn't make it bad. Others here accept the sentence.
Who, for example? Not PTD, I think. He and I don't always agree about>
everything, but here we do, I think.
Well, I have to admit that I seem to have had in mind the first example set (with
successive subordinate clauses preceding the main clause) in saying
that"[o]thers here accept the sentence"; however, I believe that Peter
Moylan'sDecember 10 post, in which he offered the "TonyBillandSteve"
mishmash,
suggests that he is OK with the sentence in spoken English -- though he does
go on to say, "It's still not a good sentence." So, I guess I'm still trying to sell it.
(9) Shoes, golfballs, and books were found amid the waste.
(9a) Amid the waste, shoes were found.
(9b) Amid the waste, shoes and golfballs were found.
(9c) Amid the waste, shoes, golfballs, and books were found.
If you're OK with (9), (9a), and (9b), then why reject (9c)? Why not
find a better way to punctuate it?
So, no examples from competent writers. Just invented sentences à la Navi.
Post by Metrist2021
Have you tried saying it aloud?
When you read an article in the New Yorker, say, or any other>
publication that employs competent writers, do you have to read it out>
loud to make sense of it?
There is nothing wrong with it. As I told Peter> > Daniels, if it can't
be punctuated, that is not the sentence's problem;
it is aproblem with our system of punctuation. I can keep manufacturing
other examples> > that follow the same syntactic pattern if you like.
Instead of inventing examples à la Navi, what about a relevant>
quotation from a well known stylist? Did Hemingway ever write a>
sentence like this? Charles Dickens? Mark Twain? Even J. K. Rowling,
if> you want to to be right up to date?
Maybe you don't like examples> > that have to do with sundaes or with
management at a place of work.> > Other topics exist.> >> >>>>> >>>>
Notice that the pause after John is a normal comma pause. What we
are>>> >>>> >> lacking is a punctuation mark to indicate a "pause"
shorter than> >>>> an>> >> inter-word gap.>> It's still not a good
sentence, but it often> >>>> happens> >> that something that> looks bad
in writing will be found> >>>> acceptable if> >> spoken with the right>
intonation.> >> --> >> Peter> >>>> Moylan Newcastle, NSW
http://www.pmoylan.org> >> --> >> Athel -- French and British, living
mainly in England until 1987.>>> --> Athel -- French and British,
living mainly in England until 1987.
--
Athel -- French and British, living mainly in England until 1987.
Metrist2021
2021-12-14 19:11:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
On 2021-12-11 20:45:58 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> > On Saturday,
December 11, 2021 at 1:27:45 AM UTC-8, Athel Cornish-Bowden wrote:> >>
On 2021-12-11 03:13:50 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> > On Friday,
December> >> 10, 2021 at 4:15:48 PM UTC-8, Peter Moylan wrote:> >> On
11/12/21> >> 06:51, Metrist2021 wrote:> > On Friday, December 10, 2021>
at> >> 10:47:50 AM UTC-8, Athel Cornish-Bowden wrote:> >> On
2021-12-10> >>> >> 18:39:55 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> >>> If the
semicolon can't do the>> >> >> job, what mark of punctuation can? We>
know thata sentence like>> >> >> that works in live speech. There
is a slightly> >>> longer pause> >>> >> between"John" and "Tony" than
there is between "Tony" and> >>> "Bill">> >> >> and between "Bill" and
"Steve."> >>> If we say it's> >> un-punctuate-able,> >> what if it were
for a printed record> >>> of> >> live speech? Let'slook at> >> our
"options." Which one is the best? I>> >> >>> think (8) might be, but>
it's archaic, isn't it?> >>>> >>> (4)> >> Under John; Tony, Bill,
and Steve> >> will surely be more productive at> >> work.> >>> (8)
Under John: Tony,> >> Bill, and Steve will surely be> >> more
productive at> >>> work.(6) Under> >> John . . . Tony, Bill, and> >>
Steve will surely be more> >>> productive at> >> work.> >>> (7) Under>
John—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more> >> productive at
work.>> >> >>> (8) Under John,—Tony, Bill, and Steve will> >> surely be
more> >> productive at work.> >> They're all hopeless.> >>> >>> >> You
can't fix> >> a bad sentence with punctuation. You need to fix it so>>
that> >> it's not a bad sentence.> >> > What's bad about it? As a
native> >>> >> speaker, I can say that it works perfectly in live
speech.> >> In> >> speech, we manage to express the subject of the
second clause as a>> >>> >> single unit. We don't have any punctuation
marks to do that. The best>> >> >> I> can do is>> Under John,
TonyBillandSteve will surely be more> >>> >> productive at work.> >
Thanks, Peter. That's funny. It has inspired> >> another idea for me:>
italics.Too badwe can't use them on this forum. I just tried it in>
Word; I think it almost works.> >> > <i>Under John</i>, Tony, Bill,
and> >>> Steve will surely be more productive> > at work.> >> You just
don't get it, do you. You can use italics, bold,> >> bold-italics,>
upper-case, small caps, underlining, double underlining,> >> quotation>
marks, 36-pt type, whatever you like. None of these will> >> transform
a> bad sentence into a good one.> >> > You still haven't answered my
question "What's bad about the sentence?"
I refer you to Louis Armstrong's remark about jazz: "If you have to
ask> what jazz is, you'll never know."
Your proclaiming it bad doesn't make it bad. Others here accept the sentence.
Who, for example? Not PTD, I think. He and I don't always agree about>
everything, but here we do, I think.
Well, I have to admit that I seem to have had in mind the first example set (with
successive subordinate clauses preceding the main clause) in saying
that"[o]thers here accept the sentence"; however, I believe that Peter
Moylan'sDecember 10 post, in which he offered the "TonyBillandSteve"
mishmash,
suggests that he is OK with the sentence in spoken English -- though he does
go on to say, "It's still not a good sentence." So, I guess I'm still
trying to sell it.
Let's try one more example containing the formula, but we'll build up
(9) Shoes, golfballs, and books were found amid the waste.
(9a) Amid the waste, shoes were found.
(9b) Amid the waste, shoes and golfballs were found.
(9c) Amid the waste, shoes, golfballs, and books were found.
If you're OK with (9), (9a), and (9b), then why reject (9c)? Why not
find a better way to punctuate it?
So, no examples from competent writers. Just invented sentences à la Navi.
These are all hypothetical. While I have encountered a sentence or two of the
successive-subordinate-clause type, with which I began this thread (see, for
instance, the sentence from Thomas Gray's masterpiece in my third post here),
I have not, to my knowledge, encountered any famous examples of the type that
I am exploring now. But since I am a native speaker and a competent writer
myself, I do not need to find examples by famous writers in order to talk about
grammar or punctuation. I can simply start a philosophical discussion about
punctuation using examples of my own, presented as punctuational conundrums.
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
Have you tried saying it aloud?
When you read an article in the New Yorker, say, or any other>
publication that employs competent writers, do you have to read it out>
loud to make sense of it?
There is nothing wrong with it. As I told Peter> > Daniels, if it can't
be punctuated, that is not the sentence's problem;
it is aproblem with our system of punctuation. I can keep manufacturing
other examples> > that follow the same syntactic pattern if you like.
Instead of inventing examples à la Navi, what about a relevant>
quotation from a well known stylist? Did Hemingway ever write a>
sentence like this? Charles Dickens? Mark Twain? Even J. K. Rowling,
if> you want to to be right up to date?
Maybe you don't like examples> > that have to do with sundaes or with
management at a place of work.> > Other topics exist.> >> >>>>> >>>>
Notice that the pause after John is a normal comma pause. What we
are>>> >>>> >> lacking is a punctuation mark to indicate a "pause"
shorter than> >>>> an>> >> inter-word gap.>> It's still not a good
sentence, but it often> >>>> happens> >> that something that> looks bad
in writing will be found> >>>> acceptable if> >> spoken with the right>
intonation.> >> --> >> Peter> >>>> Moylan Newcastle, NSW
http://www.pmoylan.org> >> --> >> Athel -- French and British, living
mainly in England until 1987.>>> --> Athel -- French and British,
living mainly in England until 1987.
--
Athel -- French and British, living mainly in England until 1987.
Metrist2021
2021-12-16 23:46:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
On 2021-12-11 20:45:58 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> > On Saturday,
December 11, 2021 at 1:27:45 AM UTC-8, Athel Cornish-Bowden wrote:> >>
On 2021-12-11 03:13:50 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> > On Friday,
December> >> 10, 2021 at 4:15:48 PM UTC-8, Peter Moylan wrote:> >> On
11/12/21> >> 06:51, Metrist2021 wrote:> > On Friday, December 10, 2021>
at> >> 10:47:50 AM UTC-8, Athel Cornish-Bowden wrote:> >> On
2021-12-10> >>> >> 18:39:55 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> >>> If the
semicolon can't do the>> >> >> job, what mark of punctuation can? We>
know thata sentence like>> >> >> that works in live speech. There
is a slightly> >>> longer pause> >>> >> between"John" and "Tony" than
there is between "Tony" and> >>> "Bill">> >> >> and between "Bill" and
"Steve."> >>> If we say it's> >> un-punctuate-able,> >> what if it were
for a printed record> >>> of> >> live speech? Let'slook at> >> our
"options." Which one is the best? I>> >> >>> think (8) might be, but>
it's archaic, isn't it?> >>>> >>> (4)> >> Under John; Tony, Bill,
and Steve> >> will surely be more productive at> >> work.> >>> (8)
Under John: Tony,> >> Bill, and Steve will surely be> >> more
productive at> >>> work.(6) Under> >> John . . . Tony, Bill, and> >>
Steve will surely be more> >>> productive at> >> work.> >>> (7) Under>
John—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more> >> productive at
work.>> >> >>> (8) Under John,—Tony, Bill, and Steve will> >> surely be
more> >> productive at work.> >> They're all hopeless.> >>> >>> >> You
can't fix> >> a bad sentence with punctuation. You need to fix it so>>
that> >> it's not a bad sentence.> >> > What's bad about it? As a
native> >>> >> speaker, I can say that it works perfectly in live
speech.> >> In> >> speech, we manage to express the subject of the
second clause as a>> >>> >> single unit. We don't have any punctuation
marks to do that. The best>> >> >> I> can do is>> Under John,
TonyBillandSteve will surely be more> >>> >> productive at work.> >
Thanks, Peter. That's funny. It has inspired> >> another idea for me:>
italics.Too badwe can't use them on this forum. I just tried it in>
Word; I think it almost works.> >> > <i>Under John</i>, Tony, Bill,
and> >>> Steve will surely be more productive> > at work.> >> You just
don't get it, do you. You can use italics, bold,> >> bold-italics,>
upper-case, small caps, underlining, double underlining,> >> quotation>
marks, 36-pt type, whatever you like. None of these will> >> transform
a> bad sentence into a good one.> >> > You still haven't answered my
question "What's bad about the sentence?"
I refer you to Louis Armstrong's remark about jazz: "If you have to
ask> what jazz is, you'll never know."
Your proclaiming it bad doesn't make it bad. Others here accept the sentence.
Who, for example? Not PTD, I think. He and I don't always agree about>
everything, but here we do, I think.
Well, I have to admit that I seem to have had in mind the first example set (with
successive subordinate clauses preceding the main clause) in saying
that"[o]thers here accept the sentence"; however, I believe that Peter
Moylan'sDecember 10 post, in which he offered the "TonyBillandSteve"
mishmash,
suggests that he is OK with the sentence in spoken English -- though he does
go on to say, "It's still not a good sentence." So, I guess I'm still
trying to sell it.
Let's try one more example containing the formula, but we'll build up
(9) Shoes, golfballs, and books were found amid the waste.
(9a) Amid the waste, shoes were found.
(9b) Amid the waste, shoes and golfballs were found.
(9c) Amid the waste, shoes, golfballs, and books were found.
If you're OK with (9), (9a), and (9b), then why reject (9c)? Why not
find a better way to punctuate it?
So, no examples from competent writers. Just invented sentences à la Navi.
Here is an example I just encountered in a Wikipedia article about an eloquent
theologian. Whether the Wikipedia article is written competently is not a question
in which I am interested. What does interest me is the following sentence, which
I think would be improved by a semicolon separating "formal education" and
"his tremendous mental capacity" (to separate the compound subject from the
"despite"-prepositional phrase with which the sentence opens):

"Despite his lack of formal education, his tremendous mental capacity, photographic
memory and zeal for his beliefs caused him to be called, 'the Archbishop of
Fundamentalism'."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_A._Ironside
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
Have you tried saying it aloud?
When you read an article in the New Yorker, say, or any other>
publication that employs competent writers, do you have to read it out>
loud to make sense of it?
There is nothing wrong with it. As I told Peter> > Daniels, if it can't
be punctuated, that is not the sentence's problem;
it is aproblem with our system of punctuation. I can keep manufacturing
other examples> > that follow the same syntactic pattern if you like.
Instead of inventing examples à la Navi, what about a relevant>
quotation from a well known stylist? Did Hemingway ever write a>
sentence like this? Charles Dickens? Mark Twain? Even J. K. Rowling,
if> you want to to be right up to date?
Maybe you don't like examples> > that have to do with sundaes or with
management at a place of work.> > Other topics exist.> >> >>>>> >>>>
Notice that the pause after John is a normal comma pause. What we
are>>> >>>> >> lacking is a punctuation mark to indicate a "pause"
shorter than> >>>> an>> >> inter-word gap.>> It's still not a good
sentence, but it often> >>>> happens> >> that something that> looks bad
in writing will be found> >>>> acceptable if> >> spoken with the right>
intonation.> >> --> >> Peter> >>>> Moylan Newcastle, NSW
http://www.pmoylan.org> >> --> >> Athel -- French and British, living
mainly in England until 1987.>>> --> Athel -- French and British,
living mainly in England until 1987.
--
Athel -- French and British, living mainly in England until 1987.
Metrist2021
2021-12-17 18:32:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
On 2021-12-14 04:31:26 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> > On Sunday, December
12, 2021 at 2:27:38 AM UTC-8, Athel Cornish-Bowden wrote:> >> On
2021-12-11 20:45:58 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> > On Saturday,> >>
December 11, 2021 at 1:27:45 AM UTC-8, Athel Cornish-Bowden wrote:> >>>
Post by Metrist2021
On 2021-12-11 03:13:50 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> > On Friday,> >>
December> >> 10, 2021 at 4:15:48 PM UTC-8, Peter Moylan wrote:> >> On>
Post by Metrist2021
11/12/21> >> 06:51, Metrist2021 wrote:> > On Friday, December 10,
2021>> >> >> at> >> 10:47:50 AM UTC-8, Athel Cornish-Bowden wrote:> >>
On> >> 2021-12-10> >>> >> 18:39:55 +0000, Metrist2021 said:>> >>> If
the> >> semicolon can't do the>> >> >> job, what mark of punctuation
can? We>> >> >>> know thata sentence like>> >> >> that works in live
speech. There> >> is a slightly> >>> longer pause> >>> >> between"John"
and "Tony" than> >> there is between "Tony" and> >>> "Bill">> >> >> and
between "Bill" and> >> "Steve."> >>> If we say it's> >>
un-punctuate-able,> >> what if it were> >> for a printed record> >>>
of> >> live speech? Let'slook at> >> our> >> "options." Which one is
the best? I>> >> >>> think (8) might be, but>> >> >> it's archaic,
isn't it?> >>>> >>> (4)> >> Under John; Tony, Bill,> >> and Steve> >>
Tony,> >> Bill, and Steve will surely be> >> more> >> productive at>
Post by Metrist2021
work.(6) Under> >> John . . . Tony, Bill, and> >>> >> Steve will
surely be more> >>> productive at> >> work.> >>> (7) Under>> >> >>
John—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more> >> productive at> >>
work.>> >> >>> (8) Under John,—Tony, Bill, and Steve will> >> surely
be> >> more> >> productive at work.> >> They're all hopeless.> >>> >>>
Post by Metrist2021
You> >> can't fix> >> a bad sentence with punctuation. You need to
fix it so>>> >> >> >> that> >> it's not a bad sentence.> >> > What's
bad about it? As a> >> native> >>> >> speaker, I can say that it works
perfectly in live> >> speech.> >> In> >> speech, we manage to express
the subject of the> >> second clause as a>> >>> >> single unit. We
don't have any punctuation> >> marks to do that. The best>> >> >> I>
can do is>> Under John,> >> TonyBillandSteve will surely be more> >>>
Post by Metrist2021
productive at work.> >> >> Thanks, Peter. That's funny. It has
inspired> >> another idea for me:>> >> >>> italics.Too badwe can't use
them on this forum. I just tried it in>> >> >>> Word; I think it almost
works.> >> > <i>Under John</i>, Tony, Bill,> >> and> >>> Steve will
surely be more productive> > at work.> >> You just> >> don't get it, do
you. You can use italics, bold,> >> bold-italics,>> >> upper-case,
small caps, underlining, double underlining,> >> quotation>> >> marks,
36-pt type, whatever you like. None of these will> >> transform> >> a>
bad sentence into a good one.> >> > You still haven't answered my> >>
question "What's bad about the sentence?"> >> I refer you to Louis
Armstrong's remark about jazz: "If you have to> >> ask> what jazz is,
you'll never know."> >>> Your proclaiming it bad doesn't make it bad.
Others here accept the sentence.> >> Who, for example? Not PTD, I
think. He and I don't always agree about>> >> everything, but here we
do, I think.> >> > Well, I have to admit that I seem to have had in
mind the first example> > set (with> > successive subordinate clauses
preceding the main clause) in saying> > that"[o]thers here accept the
sentence"; however, I believe that Peter
Post by Metrist2021
Moylan'sDecember 10 post, in which he offered the "TonyBillandSteve"
mishmash,> > suggests that he is OK with the sentence in spoken English
-- though he does> > go on to say, "It's still not a good sentence."
So, I guess I'm still> > trying to sell it.> >> > Let's try one more
example containing the formula, but we'll build up> > to it step by
step:> >> > (9) Shoes, golfballs, and books were found amid the waste.>
(9a) Amid the waste, shoes were found.> > (9b) Amid the waste, shoes
and golfballs were found.> > (9c) Amid the waste, shoes, golfballs, and
books were found.> > If you're OK with (9), (9a), and (9b), then why
reject (9c)? Why not> > find a better way to punctuate it?
So, no examples from competent writers. Just invented sentences à la Navi.
Here is an example I just encountered in a Wikipedia article about an
eloquenttheologian. Whether the Wikipedia article is written
competently is not a question
in which I am interested. What does interest me is the following sentence, which
I think would be improved by a semicolon separating "formal education"
and"his tremendous mental capacity" (to separate the compound subject
from the
"Despite his lack of formal education, his tremendous mental capacity, photographic
memory and zeal for his beliefs caused him to be called, 'the
Archbishop ofFundamentalism'."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_A._Ironside
That's not an example of the construction you were promoting.
Actually, it is. In each case, we have fronted prepositional phrases, followed
by a compound subject consisting of three coordinated noun phrases,
followed by the predicate minus the fronted prepositional phrase. Perhaps
you are not accustomed to analyzing senteces and thinking abstractly.
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Metrist2021
Have you tried saying it aloud?> >> When you read an article in the New
Yorker, say, or any other>> >> publication that employs competent
writers, do you have to read it out>> >> loud to make sense of it?> >>>
There is nothing wrong with it. As I told Peter> > Daniels, if it
can't> >>> be punctuated, that is not the sentence's problem;> >>> it
is aproblem with our system of punctuation. I can keep manufacturing>
other examples> > that follow the same syntactic pattern if you
like.> >> Instead of inventing examples à la Navi, what about a
relevant>> >> quotation from a well known stylist? Did Hemingway ever
write a>> >> sentence like this? Charles Dickens? Mark Twain? Even J.
K. Rowling,> >> if> you want to to be right up to date?> >>> Maybe you
don't like examples> > that have to do with sundaes or with> >>>
management at a place of work.> > Other topics exist.> >> >>>>> >>>>>
Notice that the pause after John is a normal comma pause. What we>
are>>> >>>> >> lacking is a punctuation mark to indicate a "pause">
shorter than> >>>> an>> >> inter-word gap.>> It's still not a good>
sentence, but it often> >>>> happens> >> that something that> looks
bad> >>> in writing will be found> >>>> acceptable if> >> spoken with
the right>> >>> intonation.> >> --> >> Peter> >>>> Moylan Newcastle,
NSW> >>> http://www.pmoylan.org> >> --> >> Athel -- French and British,
living> >>> mainly in England until 1987.>>> --> Athel -- French and
British,> >>> living mainly in England until 1987.>>> --> Athel --
French and British, living mainly in England until 1987.
--
Athel -- French and British, living mainly in England until 1987.
Peter T. Daniels
2021-12-14 15:47:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
(9) Shoes, golfballs, and books were found amid the waste.
(9a) Amid the waste, shoes were found.
(9b) Amid the waste, shoes and golfballs were found.
(9c) Amid the waste, shoes, golfballs, and books were found.
If you're OK with (9), (9a), and (9b), then why reject (9c)?
Why not find a better way to punctuate it?
Not least, because "waste" belongs to a different semantic field
from the (other) items in the list and thus is little susceptible to
garden-path confusion.
Metrist2021
2021-12-14 19:15:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Metrist2021
(9) Shoes, golfballs, and books were found amid the waste.
(9a) Amid the waste, shoes were found.
(9b) Amid the waste, shoes and golfballs were found.
(9c) Amid the waste, shoes, golfballs, and books were found.
If you're OK with (9), (9a), and (9b), then why reject (9c)?
Why not find a better way to punctuate it?
Not least, because "waste" belongs to a different semantic field
from the (other) items in the list and thus is little susceptible to
garden-path confusion.
That's a valid point. Let's tweak the example, then. I assume the following doesn't
present that semantic problem.

(10) Shoes, golfballs, and books were found among the cans.
(10a) Among the cans, shoes were found.
(10b) Among the cans, shoes and golfballs were found.
(10c) Among the cans, shoes, golfballs, and books were found.

And, yes, I am aware that I can front "Among the cans" and use "there"-insertion
("Among the cans, there were found shoes, golfballs, and books") or inversion
("Among the cans were found shoes, golfballs, and books") as ways around the
punctuational problem; however, I'd prefer to confront the problem head-on.
Peter T. Daniels
2021-12-14 21:49:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Metrist2021
(9) Shoes, golfballs, and books were found amid the waste.
(9a) Amid the waste, shoes were found.
(9b) Amid the waste, shoes and golfballs were found.
(9c) Amid the waste, shoes, golfballs, and books were found.
If you're OK with (9), (9a), and (9b), then why reject (9c)?
Why not find a better way to punctuate it?
Not least, because "waste" belongs to a different semantic field
from the (other) items in the list and thus is little susceptible to
garden-path confusion.
That's a valid point. Let's tweak the example, then. I assume the following doesn't
present that semantic problem.
(10) Shoes, golfballs, and books were found among the cans.
(10a) Among the cans, shoes were found.
(10b) Among the cans, shoes and golfballs were found.
(10c) Among the cans, shoes, golfballs, and books were found.
And, yes, I am aware that I can front "Among the cans" and use "there"-insertion
("Among the cans, there were found shoes, golfballs, and books") or inversion
("Among the cans were found shoes, golfballs, and books") as ways around the
punctuational problem; however, I'd prefer to confront the problem head-on.
If anyone were going to write such a sentence, it's highly likely that
"Among the cans were found shoes, golf balls, and books" is the
version that would have flowed naturally from their pen.

You're setting up quite an odd environment. Is it a murder mystery?
Madhu
2021-12-15 03:24:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
(10) Shoes, golfballs, and books were found among the cans.
(10a) Among the cans, shoes were found.
(10b) Among the cans, shoes and golfballs were found.
(10c) Among the cans, shoes, golfballs, and books were found.
And, yes, I am aware that I can front "Among the cans" and use "there"-insertion
("Among the cans, there were found shoes, golfballs, and books") or inversion
("Among the cans were found shoes, golfballs, and books") as ways around the
punctuational problem; however, I'd prefer to confront the problem head-on.
I didn't comment earlier, but i'm a fan of using these sentences (though
it rankles other posters) especially in text chat, and my recommendation
is to omit the punctuation you (that youre seeking to insertaltogether)
and make the structure stand out blatantly and obviously when the
recipient reparses.
Peter T. Daniels
2021-12-15 22:24:01 UTC
Permalink
(1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.
(1a') Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church, / we will
be sure to come and visit.
(1b) Although we can't join you Sunday morning,
when we have church, we will be sure to come and visit.
(1b') Although we can't join you Sunday morning, / when we have church, we will
be sure to come and visit.
(1b') is not a reasonable interpretation of (1a).
Peter T. Daniels
2021-12-11 14:22:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
(2) On ice cream, hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.
Doesn't that look and sound absurdly ungrammatical at first? It is as
if a prepositional
phrase were trying to function as the sentence subject -- a
prepositional phrase
with a compound object, consisting of four coordinated noun phrases. A
semicolon would make the intended reading clear, but I can't say I like
(3) On ice cream; hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.
The semicolon doesn't save a ridiculous sentence that looks like one of
Navi's. Why not write it in a straightforward way: hot fudge, caramel
and whipped cream are delicious on ice cream. (We won't worry about
whether it's true or not: to me it sounds, in part, revolting.)
I doubt that he intended all three toppings to be used simultaneously
(whipped cream goes with either of the others, but the others don't go
with each other), but the sentence certainly does invite that interpretation.
Post by Metrist2021
Thanks, Athel. It's the sentence recipe that interests me here, not the
ice cream one. That's just the first example that I cooked with my sentence
recipe, with which I can cook up a lot more examples of the type.
We can certainly call the version with the prepositional phrase at the end
"straightforward," but I think you'll agree that in speech, the fronting of such
phrases, even with compound subjects following, can sound natural. How about this?
(4) Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
versus
(5) Under John, Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive under work.
You just CAN'T do that, because the semicolon tells you to read it, even
in your mind's ear, with the rising intonation of the first of at least two
clauses. Such an intonation IS NOT used with prepositional phrases.
If the semicolon can't do the job, what mark of punctuation can? We know that
a sentence like that works in live speech. There is a slightly longer pause between
"John" and "Tony" than there is between "Tony" and "Bill" and between "Bill" and "Steve."
If we say it's un-punctuate-able, what if it were for a printed record of live speech? Let's
look at our "options." Which one is the best? I think (8) might be, but it's archaic, isn't it?
The comma is used to indicate the sort of intonation you want. If you insist
on following it with a list, you have to rely on the reader's common sense to
interpret the sentence -- but you shouldn't have published a garden-path
sentence in the first place.
Post by Metrist2021
(4) Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
(8) Under John: Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
(6) Under John . . . Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
(7) Under John—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
(8) Under John,—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
Have you actually looked at the sentence? There is NO possible reading of
it other than the intended one that is grammatical. If you take some or all
of the other three names as objects of the preposition, then the verb HAS
NO subject. You would have to throw in an "and" or two for it to be interpreted
any differently.
Metrist2021
2021-12-11 20:41:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
(2) On ice cream, hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.
Doesn't that look and sound absurdly ungrammatical at first? It is as
if a prepositional
phrase were trying to function as the sentence subject -- a
prepositional phrase
with a compound object, consisting of four coordinated noun phrases. A
semicolon would make the intended reading clear, but I can't say I like
(3) On ice cream; hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.
The semicolon doesn't save a ridiculous sentence that looks like one of
Navi's. Why not write it in a straightforward way: hot fudge, caramel
and whipped cream are delicious on ice cream. (We won't worry about
whether it's true or not: to me it sounds, in part, revolting.)
I doubt that he intended all three toppings to be used simultaneously
(whipped cream goes with either of the others, but the others don't go
with each other), but the sentence certainly does invite that interpretation.
Post by Metrist2021
Thanks, Athel. It's the sentence recipe that interests me here, not the
ice cream one. That's just the first example that I cooked with my sentence
recipe, with which I can cook up a lot more examples of the type.
We can certainly call the version with the prepositional phrase at the end
"straightforward," but I think you'll agree that in speech, the fronting of such
phrases, even with compound subjects following, can sound natural. How about this?
(4) Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
versus
(5) Under John, Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive under work.
You just CAN'T do that, because the semicolon tells you to read it, even
in your mind's ear, with the rising intonation of the first of at least two
clauses. Such an intonation IS NOT used with prepositional phrases.
If the semicolon can't do the job, what mark of punctuation can? We know that
a sentence like that works in live speech. There is a slightly longer pause between
"John" and "Tony" than there is between "Tony" and "Bill" and between "Bill" and "Steve."
If we say it's un-punctuate-able, what if it were for a printed record of live speech? Let's
look at our "options." Which one is the best? I think (8) might be, but it's archaic, isn't it?
The comma is used to indicate the sort of intonation you want. If you insist
on following it with a list, you have to rely on the reader's common sense to
interpret the sentence -- but you shouldn't have published a garden-path
sentence in the first place.
The thing is, in spoken English, it is not a garden-path sentence at all. There is a slightly
longer pause separating the fronted prepositional phrase from the compound subject
than there is between the three noun phrases composing the compound subject. If the
sentence can't be acceptably punctuated without rendering it a garden-path sentence,
then that is not the sentence's problem; it is a problem with our system of punctuation.
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Metrist2021
(4) Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
(8) Under John: Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
(6) Under John . . . Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
(7) Under John—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
(8) Under John,—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
Have you actually looked at the sentence? There is NO possible reading of
it other than the intended one that is grammatical. If you take some or all
of the other three names as objects of the preposition, then the verb HAS
NO subject. You would have to throw in an "and" or two for it to be interpreted
any differently.
Sam Plusnet
2021-12-12 00:25:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
The thing is, in spoken English, it is not a garden-path sentence at all. There is a slightly
longer pause separating the fronted prepositional phrase from the compound subject
than there is between the three noun phrases composing the compound subject. If the
sentence can't be acceptably punctuated without rendering it a garden-path sentence,
then that is not the sentence's problem; it is a problem with our system of punctuation.
If you insist that the problem lies not in your sentences but elsewhere,
I advise you to enlist musical notation in your crusade.

Employ the breve and the semibreve. Throw in a quaver or two.
Perhaps the Demisemiquaver will do the job.

You will have exact control of each and every pause.
--
Sam Plusnet
CDB
2021-12-12 13:23:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
I realized that I could make a similar case for the
semicolon in the following: (2) On ice cream, hot fudge,
caramel, and whipped cream are delicious. Doesn't that
look and sound absurdly ungrammatical at first? It is as
if a prepositional phrase were trying to function as the
sentence subject -- a prepositional phrase with a
compound object, consisting of four coordinated noun
phrases. A semicolon would make the intended reading
clear, but I can't say I like the look of it: (3) On ice
cream; hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are
delicious.
The semicolon doesn't save a ridiculous sentence that looks
like one of Navi's. Why not write it in a straightforward
way: hot fudge, caramel and whipped cream are delicious on
to me it sounds, in part, revolting.)
I doubt that he intended all three toppings to be used
simultaneously (whipped cream goes with either of the others,
but the others don't go with each other), but the sentence
certainly does invite that interpretation.
Post by Metrist2021
Thanks, Athel. It's the sentence recipe that interests me
here, not the ice cream one. That's just the first example
that I cooked with my sentence recipe, with which I can cook
up a lot more examples of the type.
We can certainly call the version with the prepositional
phrase at the end "straightforward," but I think you'll agree
that in speech, the fronting of such phrases, even with
compound subjects following, can sound natural. How about
this?
(4) Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more
productive at work.
versus
(5) Under John, Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more
productive under work.
You just CAN'T do that, because the semicolon tells you to read
it, even in your mind's ear, with the rising intonation of the
first of at least two clauses. Such an intonation IS NOT used
with prepositional phrases.
If the semicolon can't do the job, what mark of punctuation can?
We know that a sentence like that works in live speech. There is
a slightly longer pause between "John" and "Tony" than there is
between "Tony" and "Bill" and between "Bill" and "Steve." If we
say it's un-punctuate-able, what if it were for a printed record
of live speech? Let's look at our "options." Which one is the
best? I think (8) might be, but it's archaic, isn't it?
The comma is used to indicate the sort of intonation you want. If
you insist on following it with a list, you have to rely on the
reader's common sense to interpret the sentence -- but you
shouldn't have published a garden-path sentence in the first
place.
The thing is, in spoken English, it is not a garden-path sentence at
all. There is a slightly longer pause separating the fronted
prepositional phrase from the compound subject than there is between
the three noun phrases composing the compound subject.
That may indicate an apprach to the problem which could be more widely
accepted: replacing your semicolon with a dash. There are customary
restrictions on the use of the dash in formal prose, but they might be
easier to wave away than objections to the semicolon or a novel
rhetorical use of italics.

"Under John - Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at
work." It would still take some getting-used-to
Post by Metrist2021
If the sentence can't be acceptably punctuated without rendering it a
garden-path sentence, then that is not the sentence's problem; it is
a problem with our system of punctuation.
Everyone is the master* of their own punctuation. It can be argued that
our common system of punctuation is in a bit of trouble, but consensual
changes to it would take more time than I've got left. Good luck.
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Metrist2021
(4) Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more
productive at work. (8) Under John: Tony, Bill, and Steve will
surely be more productive at work. (6) Under John . . . Tony,
Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work. (7) Under
John—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at
work. (8) Under John,—Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more
productive at work.
Have you actually looked at the sentence? There is NO possible
reading of it other than the intended one that is grammatical. If
you take some or all of the other three names as objects of the
preposition, then the verb HAS NO subject. You would have to throw
in an "and" or two for it to be interpreted any differently.
*Is that sexist? Here's such a coil.
Snidely
2021-12-12 20:22:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by CDB
Post by Metrist2021
The thing is, in spoken English, it is not a garden-path sentence at
all. There is a slightly longer pause separating the fronted
prepositional phrase from the compound subject than there is between
the three noun phrases composing the compound subject.
That may indicate an apprach to the problem which could be more widely
accepted: replacing your semicolon with a dash. There are customary
restrictions on the use of the dash in formal prose, but they might be
easier to wave away than objections to the semicolon or a novel
rhetorical use of italics.
"Under John - Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at
work." It would still take some getting-used-to
Right now I'm accepting this for spoken speech (and the transcription
there of), but as actual prose I would prefer some modification. A
sort-of-minimal change, still using the fronting, might be

"Under John, each of Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more
productive at work."

A slightly less formal version might be:

"Under John, the gang -- Tony, Bill, and Steve -- will surely be more
productive at work."

/dps
--
"That’s where I end with this kind of conversation: Language is
crucial, and yet not the answer."
Jonathan Rosa, sociocultural and linguistic anthropologist,
Stanford.,2020
CDB
2021-12-10 15:11:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Metrist2021
I recently conceived of a usage of semicolons which
I don't believe I have ever read about or have ever
had a real occasion to use. Nevertheless, I am so
fond of the idea that I have deliberately created a
sentence to fit the bill. Isn't the following
sentence ambiguous?
(1) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when
we have church, we will be sure to come and visit.
It seems to me that (1) allows for two
interpretations. First, it could mean that "we"
have church Sunday morning and thus can't join
"you" then. (On this reading, the "when"-clause is
a nonrestrictive adverbial clause commenting on
"Sunday morning." "We" will come and visit some
other time.
Second, (1) could mean that "we" will come and
visit when "we" have church. The implication is, of
course, that "we" have church at some time other
than Sunday morning. "We" can't join "you" on
Sunday morning for some unmentioned reason, having
nothing to do with our having church.
Would you agree that the semicolons below
disambiguate each reading?
(1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning,
when we have church; we will be sure to come and
visit. (1b) Although we can't join you Sunday
morning; when we have church, we will be sure to
come and visit.
Thank you. : )
Neither conforms to standard usage, and both will
cause your reader to stop and try to figure out what
was intended when the mistake was typed..
I just noticed that Thomas Gray seems to have made a
similar "mistake" in his "Elegy Written in a Country
"For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead, Dost in
these lines their artless tale relate; If chance, by
lonely contemplation led, Some kindred spirit shall
enquire thy fate,
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say, 'Oft have we
seen him at the peep of dawn Brushing with hasty steps
the dews away, To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.'"
If Gray's semicolon there were replaced by a comma, the
reader might wrongly suppose, even if only temporarily,
that the "if"-clause was embedded in the "who"-clause.
I think it's relevant to the question, though. The
semicolon separates a prepositional phrase (for thee) and
its baggage (who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead, dost in
these lines their artless tale relate) from what I take to
be the main clause. What puzzles me is whether "if chance"
could be an error, or a deliberate omission for the sake of
the metre of the pronoun "it" from "if it chance". Those
last two lines need a subject. "If [it] chance, by lonely
contemplation led, [that] some kindred spirit shall
enquire thy fate, ...
...
That's what I thought, but maybe it's "if by chance," and
"some kindred spirit is the subject.
Agreed. I picked "if it" because it seemed the easier mistake to make.
Post by Jerry Friedman
And on the original question, I can see that this proposal
is consistent with using the semicolon as a stronger comma
(you might say) in separating items of a list that contain
commas, but I don't think it will catch on.
They don't teach grammar any more, I hear.
(2) On ice cream, hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are
delicious.
Doesn't that look and sound absurdly ungrammatical at first? It
is as if a prepositional phrase were trying to function as the
sentence subject -- a prepositional phrase with a compound
object, consisting of four coordinated noun phrases. A semicolon
would make the intended reading clear, but I can't say I like the
(3) On ice cream; hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are
delicious.
The semicolon doesn't save a ridiculous sentence that looks like
one of Navi's. Why not write it in a straightforward way: hot
fudge, caramel and whipped cream are delicious on ice cream. (We
won't worry about whether it's true or not: to me it sounds, in
part, revolting.)
Thanks, Athel. It's the sentence recipe that interests me here, not
the ice cream one. That's just the first example that I cooked with
my sentence recipe, with which I can cook up a lot more examples of
the type.
We can certainly call the version with the prepositional phrase at
the end "straightforward," but I think you'll agree that in speech,
the fronting of such phrases, even with compound subjects following,
can sound natural. How about this?
(4) Under John; Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive at work.
versus
(5) Under John, Tony, Bill, and Steve will surely be more productive under work.
I think you're right that the version with a semicolon is less
garden-pathy than the one with a comma, but it looks so strange to me
that I would probably rewrite it, either by moving the prepositional
phrase to the end or by replacing it with something like "under John's
supervision,".
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
There, it is clear that the meaning is this: "Hot fudge, caramel,
and whipped cream are delicious on ice cream." The prepositional
phrase has been fronted, and, in order for it to be obviously
distinct from the compound sentence subject that follows,
stronger punctuation is needed. I can't think of a better
punctuation mark than the semicolon.
"As ice-cream toppings,"?
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
Still, the semicolon looks weird in (3), doesn't it? Can it
really be called wrong, though? : )
It's a personal choice, as long as it isn't misleading. I have no beef
with idiosyncrasy in punctuation, as long as it is used consistently.
Your readers would soon learn to cope with it.
Peter Moylan
2021-12-10 23:39:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
(3) On ice cream; hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are
delicious.
The semicolon doesn't save a ridiculous sentence that looks like one
of Navi's. Why not write it in a straightforward way: hot fudge,
caramel and whipped cream are delicious on ice cream. (We won't worry
about whether it's true or not: to me it sounds, in part,
revolting.)
Some Americans I met in California talked me into having a hot fudge
sundae with them. They seemed to think that I should experience the
height of American culture. I managed to eat it all, but I wouldn't want
a second.

Now that I think of it, I had the same reaction when I was served
pumpkin pie.
--
Peter Moylan Newcastle, NSW http://www.pmoylan.org
Athel Cornish-Bowden
2021-12-11 09:22:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter Moylan
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
(3) On ice cream; hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are
delicious.
The semicolon doesn't save a ridiculous sentence that looks like one
of Navi's. Why not write it in a straightforward way: hot fudge,
caramel and whipped cream are delicious on ice cream. (We won't worry
about whether it's true or not: to me it sounds, in part,
revolting.)
Some Americans I met in California talked me into having a hot fudge
sundae with them. They seemed to think that I should experience the
height of American culture. I managed to eat it all, but I wouldn't want
a second.
Now that I think of it, I had the same reaction when I was served
pumpkin pie.
What about barbecued marshmallows?
--
Athel -- French and British, living mainly in England until 1987.
Peter T. Daniels
2021-12-11 14:29:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Peter Moylan
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
(3) On ice cream; hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.
The semicolon doesn't save a ridiculous sentence that looks like one
of Navi's. Why not write it in a straightforward way: hot fudge,
caramel and whipped cream are delicious on ice cream. (We won't worry
about whether it's true or not: to me it sounds, in part,
revolting.)
I noted earlier that hot fudge and caramel are mutually exclusive. An
excellent pairing, though, is hot fudge on black cherry ice cream. (cf.
choclolate-covered cherries.)
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Peter Moylan
Some Americans I met in California talked me into having a hot fudge
sundae with them. They seemed to think that I should experience the
height of American culture. I managed to eat it all, but I wouldn't want
a second.
"All"? They come in many different sizes. Hot fudge would probably
be too sweet for me now, since I haven't (really) had sugar for 15 years
or so (but I can still have chocolate in carefully limited quantities).
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Peter Moylan
Now that I think of it, I had the same reaction when I was served
pumpkin pie.
Yeah, well, you put "beetroot" and fried eggs on hamburgers.
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
What about barbecued marshmallows?
Um, it's a misuse of "barbecued" for "toasted"?
Sam Plusnet
2021-12-11 18:06:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
What about barbecued marshmallows?
Um, it's a misuse of "barbecued" for "toasted"?
The OED informs me that a barbecue is what you Americans sleep on.

"A rude wooden framework, used in America for sleeping on, and for
supporting above a fire meat that is to be smoked or dried."

Why have none of you confessed to this strange habit before now?

In what way is it "rude"?
--
Sam Plusnet
Peter T. Daniels
2021-12-11 19:38:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Sam Plusnet
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
What about barbecued marshmallows?
Um, it's a misuse of "barbecued" for "toasted"?
The OED informs me that a barbecue is what you Americans sleep on.
"A rude wooden framework, used in America for sleeping on, and for
supporting above a fire meat that is to be smoked or dried."
Does it say "not updated since 1887"?
Post by Sam Plusnet
Why have none of you confessed to this strange habit before now?
In what way is it "rude"?
As in "By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once th' embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard 'round the world." (Emerson, "Concord Hymn")

I.e., made of rough-hewn timbers: sturdy but not esthetical.
Peter T. Daniels
2021-12-11 14:34:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Peter Moylan
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
(3) On ice cream; hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.
The semicolon doesn't save a ridiculous sentence that looks like one
of Navi's. Why not write it in a straightforward way: hot fudge,
caramel and whipped cream are delicious on ice cream. (We won't worry
about whether it's true or not: to me it sounds, in part,
revolting.)
Some Americans I met in California talked me into having a hot fudge
sundae with them. They seemed to think that I should experience the
height of American culture. I managed to eat it all, but I wouldn't want
a second.
Now that I think of it, I had the same reaction when I was served
pumpkin pie.
What about barbecued marshmallows?
I've tried that. They shrivelled up and fell into the fire.
Well duh, doing it is a skill acquired at camp (or going camping)
at the age of 7 or so. Some like themlightly browned on the
outside and a bit melted on the inside, most probably go a bit
further, and some like them to briefly catch fire so there's a
coating of char over a hot and gooey inside.

Cf. also the s'more, a Girl Scout specialty. (There was a
controversy here months ago about whether boys or Boy
Scouts could do them): a sandwich of a marshmallow and
a square of a Hershey Bar squashed between two Graham
crackers and somehow held over the fire so that the fillings
melt together. (The name is from "[I want] some more.")
Snidely
2021-12-12 10:07:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Peter Moylan
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
(3) On ice cream; hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.
The semicolon doesn't save a ridiculous sentence that looks like one
of Navi's. Why not write it in a straightforward way: hot fudge,
caramel and whipped cream are delicious on ice cream. (We won't worry
about whether it's true or not: to me it sounds, in part,
revolting.)
Some Americans I met in California talked me into having a hot fudge
sundae with them. They seemed to think that I should experience the
height of American culture. I managed to eat it all, but I wouldn't want
a second.
Now that I think of it, I had the same reaction when I was served
pumpkin pie.
What about barbecued marshmallows?
I've tried that. They shrivelled up and fell into the fire.
Well duh, doing it is a skill acquired at camp (or going camping)
at the age of 7 or so. Some like themlightly browned on the
outside and a bit melted on the inside, most probably go a bit
further, and some like them to briefly catch fire so there's a
coating of char over a hot and gooey inside.
Cf. also the s'more, a Girl Scout specialty. (There was a
controversy here months ago about whether boys or Boy
Scouts could do them): a sandwich of a marshmallow and
a square of a Hershey Bar squashed between two Graham
crackers and somehow held over the fire so that the fillings
melt together. (The name is from "[I want] some more.")
The collection isn't held over the fire ... first you melt that heart
of the marshmallow, then you place it on the chocolate and slap the
second piece of graham cracker on top. The marshmallow melts the
chocolate without the chocolate ever playing moth.

/dps
--
Killing a mouse was hardly a Nobel Prize-worthy exercise, and Lawrence
went apopleptic when he learned a lousy rodent had peed away all his
precious heavy water.
_The Disappearing Spoon_, Sam Kean
Madhu
2021-12-13 06:21:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Peter Moylan
Some Americans I met in California talked me into having a hot
fudge sundae with them. They seemed to think that I should
experience the height of American culture. I managed to eat it
all, but I wouldn't want a second.
Now that I think of it, I had the same reaction when I was served
pumpkin pie.
What about barbecued marshmallows?
I've tried that. They shrivelled up and fell into the fire.
Well duh, doing it is a skill acquired at camp (or going camping)
at the age of 7 or so. Some like themlightly browned on the
outside and a bit melted on the inside, most probably go a bit
further, and some like them to briefly catch fire so there's a
coating of char over a hot and gooey inside.
Cf. also the s'more, a Girl Scout specialty. (There was a
controversy here months ago about whether boys or Boy
Scouts could do them): a sandwich of a marshmallow and
a square of a Hershey Bar squashed between two Graham
crackers and somehow held over the fire so that the fillings
melt together. (The name is from "[I want] some more.")
The fun is in playing with fire. In earlier centuries British kids had
more fun with
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snap-dragon_(game)
which I imagine has been phased out now

Though I can't imagine how it's billed as a "parlour game"
Athel Cornish-Bowden
2021-12-11 15:13:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Peter Moylan
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
(3) On ice cream; hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.
The semicolon doesn't save a ridiculous sentence that looks like one
of Navi's. Why not write it in a straightforward way: hot fudge,
caramel and whipped cream are delicious on ice cream. (We won't worry
about whether it's true or not: to me it sounds, in part,
revolting.)
Some Americans I met in California talked me into having a hot fudge
sundae with them. They seemed to think that I should experience the
height of American culture. I managed to eat it all, but I wouldn't want
a second.
Now that I think of it, I had the same reaction when I was served
pumpkin pie.
What about barbecued marshmallows?
I've tried that. They shrivelled up and fell into the fire.
You were lucky.
--
Athel -- French and British, living mainly in England until 1987.
CDB
2021-12-11 14:15:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter Moylan
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
(3) On ice cream; hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are
delicious.
The semicolon doesn't save a ridiculous sentence that looks like
one of Navi's. Why not write it in a straightforward way: hot
fudge, caramel and whipped cream are delicious on ice cream. (We
won't worry about whether it's true or not: to me it sounds, in
part, revolting.)
Some Americans I met in California talked me into having a hot fudge
sundae with them. They seemed to think that I should experience the
height of American culture. I managed to eat it all, but I wouldn't
want a second.
Now that I think of it, I had the same reaction when I was served
pumpkin pie.
It's OK with maple syrup and whipped cream. Once a year.
CDB
2021-12-12 13:30:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter Moylan
Now that I think of it, I had the same reaction when I was
served pumpkin pie.
It's OK with maple syrup and whipped cream. Once a year.
Why? The pie itself has the perfect amount of sweetness (almost
none). The whipped cream perfects the texture.
Most things are improved by the addition of a little Northern Gold. Try
it; you'll loike it.
But my cousine makes the worlds' greatest pumpkin pie, so you're out
of luck.
I've been listening to Dr Gundry on PBS, and am off pie. Nyah, nyah.
CDB
2021-12-12 13:32:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by CDB
Post by Peter Moylan
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by Metrist2021
(3) On ice cream; hot fudge, caramel, and whipped cream are delicious.
The semicolon doesn't save a ridiculous sentence that looks
hot fudge, caramel and whipped cream are delicious on ice
cream. (We won't worry about whether it's true or not: to me it
sounds, in part, revolting.)
Some Americans I met in California talked me into having a hot
fudge sundae with them. They seemed to think that I should
experience the height of American culture. I managed to eat it
all, but I wouldn't want a second.
Now that I think of it, I had the same reaction when I was served
pumpkin pie.
It's OK with maple syrup and whipped cream. Once a year.
I save the maple syrup for things that got a rise out of baking soda.
I might consider vanilla ice cream on pumpkin pie, but that pie is
rarely served heated.
Room-temperature is best. Il faut la chambrer.
Metrist2021
2021-12-04 19:14:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Metrist2021
I recently conceived of a usage of semicolons which I don't believe I have
ever read about or have ever had a real occasion to use. Nevertheless, I
am so fond of the idea that I have deliberately created a sentence to fit
the bill. Isn't the following sentence ambiguous?
(1) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.
It seems to me that (1) allows for two interpretations. First, it could mean
that "we" have church Sunday morning and thus can't join "you" then. (On
this reading, the "when"-clause is a nonrestrictive adverbial clause
commenting on "Sunday morning." "We" will come and visit some other time.
Second, (1) could mean that "we" will come and visit when "we" have
church. The implication is, of course, that "we" have church at some time
other than Sunday morning. "We" can't join "you" on Sunday morning for
some unmentioned reason, having nothing to do with our having church.
Would you agree that the semicolons below disambiguate each reading?
(1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church;
we will be sure to come and visit.
(1b) Although we can't join you Sunday morning; when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.
Thank you. : )
Neither conforms to standard usage, and both will cause your reader
to stop and try to figure out what was intended when the mistake was
typed..
I just noticed that Thomas Gray seems to have made a similar "mistake"
"For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead,
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall enquire thy fate,
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
'Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away,
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.'"
If Gray's semicolon there were replaced by a comma, the reader might wrongly
suppose, even if only temporarily, that the "if"-clause was embedded in the "who"-clause.
Please allow me to explain how they are similar. In both my example and in the
one from Gray, we have a subordinate clause -- a type of adjunct -- about which,
without the semicolon, it would be unclear to which phrase it adjoins.

Without the semicolon in my examples, the "when" clause can be interpreted
either as an adjunct of the PP "(on) Sunday morning," in which case it is a
relative clause, or as an adjunct of the main clause, in which case it is adverbial.

Without the semicolon in the example from Gray, the "if"-clause could be interpreted
either as an adjunct within the "who"-relative ("Thou dost relate their artless tale if chance . . .")
or as an adjunct of the main clause ("If [X], haply some hoary-headed swain may say . . .").

(b) style has changed
Post by Peter T. Daniels
over nearly 300 years.
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Many "stylists" complain that semicolons are use far too frequently
as it is.
You can fix your "ambiguity" by rearranging the clauses.
But the second interpretation seems like quite a strange thing to say.
CDB
2021-12-17 13:32:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
Greetings,
I recently conceived of a usage of semicolons which I don't
believe I have ever read about or have ever had a real occasion
to use. Nevertheless, I am so fond of the idea that I have
deliberately created a sentence to fit the bill. Isn't the
following sentence ambiguous?
(1) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have
church, we will be sure to come and visit.
It seems to me that (1) allows for two interpretations. First, it
could mean that "we" have church Sunday morning and thus can't
join "you" then. (On this reading, the "when"-clause is a
nonrestrictive adverbial clause commenting on "Sunday morning."
"We" will come and visit some other time.
Second, (1) could mean that "we" will come and visit when "we"
have church. The implication is, of course, that "we" have
church at some time other than Sunday morning. "We" can't join
"you" on Sunday morning for some unmentioned reason, having
nothing to do with our having church.
Would you agree that the semicolons below disambiguate each
reading?
(1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have
church; we will be sure to come and visit. (1b) Although we
can't join you Sunday morning; when we have church, we will be
sure to come and visit.
I'm uncomfortable with the idea of separating a subordinate clause
from its main clause with a semicolon.
Returning to my original question (concerning subordinate clauses
rather than prepositional phrases), I thought of another famous (to
me) example in which successive subordinate clauses are used at the
beginning of the sentence, a semicolon appearing between them,
before the main clause. It is in my favorite translation of the
first sentence of Spinoza's treatise "On the Improvement of the
Understanding." I checked another translation, and a semicolon is
also used in it. The difference between the two is that a nonfinite
subordinate clause is used following the semicolon in the first
example (my favorite), and a finite subordinate clause is used there
TRANSLATION 1: "After experience had taught me that all the usual
surroundings of social life are vain and futile; seeing that none of
the objects of my fears contained in themselves anything either good
or bad, except in so far as the mind is affected by them, I finally
resolved to inquire whether there might be some real good having
power to communicate itself, which would affect the mind singly, to
the exclusion of all else: whether, in fact, there might be anything
of which the discovery and attainment would enable me to enjoy
continuous, supreme, and unending happiness."
https://quotepark.com/quotes/1837487-baruch-spinoza-after-experience-had-taught-me-that-all-the-usual/
]
TRANSLATION 2: "After experience had taught me that all things which
frequently
take place in ordinary life are vain and futile; when I saw that all
the things I feared and which feared me had nothing good or bad in
them save in so far as the mind was affected by them, I determined
at last to inquire whether there might be anything which might be
truly good and able to communicate its goodness, and by which the
mind might be affected to the exclusion of all other things: I
determined, I say, to inquire whether I might discover and acquire
the faculty of enjoying throughout eternity continual supreme
happiness."
https://www.google.com/books/edition/Spinoza_A_Very_Short_Introduction/CNXh8o8Iz50C?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=%22after+experience+had+taught+me%22+spinoza&pg=PA22&printsec=frontcover
I
like the style of second version better.
I am happy with using the semicolon as a supercomma separating
coordinate clauses, even when there is a coordinating conjunction
there
Me too. They can be replaced by "and", and that is not unusual in a
semicolon.
What would you think of "We can't join you Sunday morning, when we
have church; but we will be sure to come and visit"?
Not a problem. I do that myself quite often, as I have said somewhere
in this thread.
lar3ryca
2021-12-20 16:09:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
Greetings,
I recently conceived of a usage of semicolons which I don't believe I have
ever read about or have ever had a real occasion to use. Nevertheless, I
am so fond of the idea that I have deliberately created a sentence to fit
the bill. Isn't the following sentence ambiguous?
(1) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.
It seems to me that (1) allows for two interpretations. First, it could mean
that "we" have church Sunday morning and thus can't join "you" then. (On
this reading, the "when"-clause is a nonrestrictive adverbial clause
commenting on "Sunday morning." "We" will come and visit some other time.
Second, (1) could mean that "we" will come and visit when "we" have
church. The implication is, of course, that "we" have church at some time
other than Sunday morning. "We" can't join "you" on Sunday morning for
some unmentioned reason, having nothing to do with our having church.
Would you agree that the semicolons below disambiguate each reading?
(1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we have church;
we will be sure to come and visit.
(1b) Although we can't join you Sunday morning; when we have church,
we will be sure to come and visit.
Thank you. : )
Waking the sleeping dog up: There was a post at Language Log today
"Like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others
have all sold rights to their music for eye-popping prices."
The linguist Mark Liberman, who posted it, remarked, "This is a case
where spoken prosody could make the structure clear. But it's interesting
that none of the stronger-than-comma punctuation marks has a chance
here: colon, semicolon, dash, …"
https://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=53053#more-53053
The only way I can think of to make it right would be to rewrite it as:

"Like Bruce Springsteen, others, including Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and Tina Turner,
have sold rights to their music for eye-popping prices."

How did I do?
Athel Cornish-Bowden
2021-12-20 17:13:08 UTC
Permalink
Greetings,>> I recently conceived of a usage of semicolons which I
don't believe I have> ever read about or have ever had a real occasion
to use. Nevertheless, I> am so fond of the idea that I have
deliberately created a sentence to fit> the bill. Isn't the following
sentence ambiguous?>> (1) Although we can't join you Sunday morning,
when we have church,> we will be sure to come and visit.>> It seems to
me that (1) allows for two interpretations. First, it could mean> that
"we" have church Sunday morning and thus can't join "you" then. (On>
this reading, the "when"-clause is a nonrestrictive adverbial clause>
commenting on "Sunday morning." "We" will come and visit some other
time.>> Second, (1) could mean that "we" will come and visit when "we"
have> church. The implication is, of course, that "we" have church at
some time> other than Sunday morning. "We" can't join "you" on Sunday
morning for> some unmentioned reason, having nothing to do with our
having church.>> Would you agree that the semicolons below disambiguate
each reading?>> (1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we
have church;> we will be sure to come and visit.> (1b) Although we
can't join you Sunday morning; when we have church,> we will be sure to
come and visit.>> Thank you. : )
Waking the sleeping dog up: There was a post at Language Log today
"Like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others
have all sold rights to their music for eye-popping prices."
The linguist Mark Liberman, who posted it, remarked, "This is a case
where spoken prosody could make the structure clear. But it's interesting
that none of the stronger-than-comma punctuation marks has a chance
here: colon, semicolon, dash, …"
https://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=53053#more-53053
Only a matter of time before Metrist2021 lets them all know at Language
Log that he's the only one who knows how to construct sentences in
written English.
--
Athel -- French and British, living mainly in England until 1987.
Metrist2021
2021-12-20 19:42:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Greetings,>> I recently conceived of a usage of semicolons which I
don't believe I have> ever read about or have ever had a real occasion
to use. Nevertheless, I> am so fond of the idea that I have
deliberately created a sentence to fit> the bill. Isn't the following
sentence ambiguous?>> (1) Although we can't join you Sunday morning,
when we have church,> we will be sure to come and visit.>> It seems to
me that (1) allows for two interpretations. First, it could mean> that
"we" have church Sunday morning and thus can't join "you" then. (On>
this reading, the "when"-clause is a nonrestrictive adverbial clause>
commenting on "Sunday morning." "We" will come and visit some other
time.>> Second, (1) could mean that "we" will come and visit when "we"
have> church. The implication is, of course, that "we" have church at
some time> other than Sunday morning. "We" can't join "you" on Sunday
morning for> some unmentioned reason, having nothing to do with our
having church.>> Would you agree that the semicolons below disambiguate
each reading?>> (1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we
have church;> we will be sure to come and visit.> (1b) Although we
can't join you Sunday morning; when we have church,> we will be sure to
come and visit.>> Thank you. : )
Waking the sleeping dog up: There was a post at Language Log today
"Like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others
have all sold rights to their music for eye-popping prices."
The linguist Mark Liberman, who posted it, remarked, "This is a case
where spoken prosody could make the structure clear. But it's interesting
that none of the stronger-than-comma punctuation marks has a chance
here: colon, semicolon, dash, …"
https://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=53053#more-53053
Only a matter of time before Metrist2021 lets them all know at Language
Log that he's the only one who knows how to construct sentences in
written English.
Not at all, though I am delighted by the coincidence of that LL post appearing right
after I raised the _exact same issue_ at this site. (My thanks to Jerry Friedman for
alerting us to the presence of that thread!) I think you can see, Athel, that the structure
at LL is the same one realized by all the examples in this thread containing an introductory
prepositional phrase followed by a compound subject consisting of more than two NPs.

That sentence presents the exact same punctuational problem, too, and you should note
that Professor Liberman says that "prosody could make the structure clear." In other words,
the type of sentence that you say is bad is _not bad at all_ in spoken English, so I'm glad that,
while insulting me, you used "knows how to construct sentences in _written_ English,"
revealing that you now are restricting your claim about these sentences' badness to written English.

I am interested in the problem, which, yes, I think does point to the use of nonconventional
punctuational strategies as the only possible solution(s). Should the problem have a solution
other than revising the sentence in written English so that it no longer uses the same structure?
I say that it should, because, given the possibility of flawlessly communicating the proper structure
in spoken English, there ought to be a way of representing the sentence in writing in a non-ridiculous way.

The four "possibilities" I propose are the semicolon, the line-break use of the slash, sentence-initial
parentheses, or the archaic comma-dash combo:

A. Like Bruce Springsteen; Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others have all sold rights
to their music for eye-popping prices.

B. Like Bruce Springsteen, / Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others have all sold rights
to their music for eye-popping prices.

C. (Like Bruce Springsteen) Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others have all sold rights
to their music for eye-popping prices.

D. Like Bruce Springsteen,— Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others have all sold rights
to their music for eye-popping prices.

If anyone would care to rank these in order of his or her preference, I'd appreciate it. Also, I'm interested
if I've overlooked any other possibilities—besides revising the sentence, a solution that begs the question.
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
--
Athel -- French and British, living mainly in England until 1987.
bil...@shaw.ca
2021-12-20 20:16:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Greetings,>> I recently conceived of a usage of semicolons which I
don't believe I have> ever read about or have ever had a real occasion
to use. Nevertheless, I> am so fond of the idea that I have
deliberately created a sentence to fit> the bill. Isn't the following
sentence ambiguous?>> (1) Although we can't join you Sunday morning,
when we have church,> we will be sure to come and visit.>> It seems to
me that (1) allows for two interpretations. First, it could mean> that
"we" have church Sunday morning and thus can't join "you" then. (On>
this reading, the "when"-clause is a nonrestrictive adverbial clause>
commenting on "Sunday morning." "We" will come and visit some other
time.>> Second, (1) could mean that "we" will come and visit when "we"
have> church. The implication is, of course, that "we" have church at
some time> other than Sunday morning. "We" can't join "you" on Sunday
morning for> some unmentioned reason, having nothing to do with our
having church.>> Would you agree that the semicolons below disambiguate
each reading?>> (1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we
have church;> we will be sure to come and visit.> (1b) Although we
can't join you Sunday morning; when we have church,> we will be sure to
come and visit.>> Thank you. : )
Waking the sleeping dog up: There was a post at Language Log today
"Like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others
have all sold rights to their music for eye-popping prices."
The linguist Mark Liberman, who posted it, remarked, "This is a case
where spoken prosody could make the structure clear. But it's interesting
that none of the stronger-than-comma punctuation marks has a chance
here: colon, semicolon, dash, …"
https://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=53053#more-53053
Only a matter of time before Metrist2021 lets them all know at Language
Log that he's the only one who knows how to construct sentences in
written English.
Not at all, though I am delighted by the coincidence of that LL post appearing right
after I raised the _exact same issue_ at this site. (My thanks to Jerry Friedman for
alerting us to the presence of that thread!) I think you can see, Athel, that the structure
at LL is the same one realized by all the examples in this thread containing an introductory
prepositional phrase followed by a compound subject consisting of more than two NPs.
That sentence presents the exact same punctuational problem, too, and you should note
that Professor Liberman says that "prosody could make the structure clear." In other words,
the type of sentence that you say is bad is _not bad at all_ in spoken English, so I'm glad that,
while insulting me, you used "knows how to construct sentences in _written_ English,"
revealing that you now are restricting your claim about these sentences' badness to written English.
I am interested in the problem, which, yes, I think does point to the use of nonconventional
punctuational strategies as the only possible solution(s). Should the problem have a solution
other than revising the sentence in written English so that it no longer uses the same structure?
I say that it should, because, given the possibility of flawlessly communicating the proper structure
in spoken English, there ought to be a way of representing the sentence in writing in a non-ridiculous way.
The four "possibilities" I propose are the semicolon, the line-break use of the slash, sentence-initial
A. Like Bruce Springsteen; Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others have all sold rights
to their music for eye-popping prices.
B. Like Bruce Springsteen, / Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others have all sold rights
to their music for eye-popping prices.
C. (Like Bruce Springsteen) Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others have all sold rights
to their music for eye-popping prices.
D. Like Bruce Springsteen,— Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others have all sold rights
to their music for eye-popping prices.
If anyone would care to rank these in order of his or her preference, I'd appreciate it. Also, I'm interested
if I've overlooked any other possibilities—besides revising the sentence, a solution that begs the question.
I think you've created an unnecessary problem. There is nothing in any version of your sentence that makes
Springsteen's situation unique or exemplary. That means you can simplify the sentence thusly:

Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others have...

bill
Jerry Friedman
2021-12-20 21:11:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by ***@shaw.ca
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Greetings,>> I recently conceived of a usage of semicolons which I
don't believe I have> ever read about or have ever had a real occasion
to use. Nevertheless, I> am so fond of the idea that I have
deliberately created a sentence to fit> the bill. Isn't the following
sentence ambiguous?>> (1) Although we can't join you Sunday morning,
when we have church,> we will be sure to come and visit.>> It seems to
me that (1) allows for two interpretations. First, it could mean> that
"we" have church Sunday morning and thus can't join "you" then. (On>
this reading, the "when"-clause is a nonrestrictive adverbial clause>
commenting on "Sunday morning." "We" will come and visit some other
time.>> Second, (1) could mean that "we" will come and visit when "we"
have> church. The implication is, of course, that "we" have church at
some time> other than Sunday morning. "We" can't join "you" on Sunday
morning for> some unmentioned reason, having nothing to do with our
having church.>> Would you agree that the semicolons below disambiguate
each reading?>> (1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we
have church;> we will be sure to come and visit.> (1b) Although we
can't join you Sunday morning; when we have church,> we will be sure to
come and visit.>> Thank you. : )
Waking the sleeping dog up: There was a post at Language Log today
"Like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others
have all sold rights to their music for eye-popping prices."
The linguist Mark Liberman, who posted it, remarked, "This is a case
where spoken prosody could make the structure clear. But it's interesting
that none of the stronger-than-comma punctuation marks has a chance
here: colon, semicolon, dash, …"
https://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=53053#more-53053
Only a matter of time before Metrist2021 lets them all know at Language
Log that he's the only one who knows how to construct sentences in
written English.
Not at all, though I am delighted by the coincidence of that LL post appearing right
after I raised the _exact same issue_ at this site. (My thanks to Jerry Friedman for
alerting us to the presence of that thread!) I think you can see, Athel, that the structure
at LL is the same one realized by all the examples in this thread containing an introductory
prepositional phrase followed by a compound subject consisting of more than two NPs.
That sentence presents the exact same punctuational problem, too, and you should note
that Professor Liberman says that "prosody could make the structure clear." In other words,
the type of sentence that you say is bad is _not bad at all_ in spoken English, so I'm glad that,
while insulting me, you used "knows how to construct sentences in _written_ English,"
revealing that you now are restricting your claim about these sentences' badness to written English.
I am interested in the problem, which, yes, I think does point to the use of nonconventional
punctuational strategies as the only possible solution(s). Should the problem have a solution
other than revising the sentence in written English so that it no longer uses the same structure?
I say that it should, because, given the possibility of flawlessly communicating the proper structure
in spoken English, there ought to be a way of representing the sentence in writing in a non-ridiculous way.
The four "possibilities" I propose are the semicolon, the line-break use of the slash, sentence-initial
A. Like Bruce Springsteen; Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others have all sold rights
to their music for eye-popping prices.
B. Like Bruce Springsteen, / Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others have all sold rights
to their music for eye-popping prices.
C. (Like Bruce Springsteen) Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others have all sold rights
to their music for eye-popping prices.
D. Like Bruce Springsteen,— Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others have all sold rights
to their music for eye-popping prices.
If anyone would care to rank these in order of his or her preference, I'd appreciate it. Also, I'm interested
if I've overlooked any other possibilities—besides revising the sentence, a solution that begs the question.
I think you've created an unnecessary problem. There is nothing in any version of your sentence that makes
Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others have...
You can see the context at the Language Log article. It's about
Springsteen's recent decision, and the point of the given sentence
is that he's not the first.

By the way, a commenter there said that the sentence has been
revised to "Like Bruce Springsteen, major artists including Bob Dylan,
Paul Simon and Tina Turner have sold rights to their music for
eye-popping prices."
--
Jerry Friedman
Peter Moylan
2021-12-21 01:46:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jerry Friedman
Post by ***@shaw.ca
Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others have...
You can see the context at the Language Log article. It's about
Springsteen's recent decision, and the point of the given sentence is
that he's not the first.
By the way, a commenter there said that the sentence has been revised
to "Like Bruce Springsteen, major artists including Bob Dylan, Paul
Simon and Tina Turner have sold rights to their music for eye-popping
prices."
That sentence, and all of the suggested revisions I've seen, has another
fault. It suggests that Dylan, Simon, and Turner have all followed the
lead given by Springsteen, and that's not true.
--
Peter Moylan Newcastle, NSW http://www.pmoylan.org
Metrist2021
2021-12-22 05:33:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Greetings,>> I recently conceived of a usage of semicolons which I
don't believe I have> ever read about or have ever had a real occasion
to use. Nevertheless, I> am so fond of the idea that I have
deliberately created a sentence to fit> the bill. Isn't the following
sentence ambiguous?>> (1) Although we can't join you Sunday morning,
when we have church,> we will be sure to come and visit.>> It seems to
me that (1) allows for two interpretations. First, it could mean> that
"we" have church Sunday morning and thus can't join "you" then. (On>
this reading, the "when"-clause is a nonrestrictive adverbial clause>
commenting on "Sunday morning." "We" will come and visit some other
time.>> Second, (1) could mean that "we" will come and visit when "we"
have> church. The implication is, of course, that "we" have church at
some time> other than Sunday morning. "We" can't join "you" on Sunday
morning for> some unmentioned reason, having nothing to do with our
having church.>> Would you agree that the semicolons below disambiguate
each reading?>> (1a) Although we can't join you Sunday morning, when we
have church;> we will be sure to come and visit.> (1b) Although we
can't join you Sunday morning; when we have church,> we will be sure to
come and visit.>> Thank you. : )
Waking the sleeping dog up: There was a post at Language Log today
"Like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others
have all sold rights to their music for eye-popping prices."
The linguist Mark Liberman, who posted it, remarked, "This is a case
where spoken prosody could make the structure clear. But it's interesting
that none of the stronger-than-comma punctuation marks has a chance
here: colon, semicolon, dash, …"
https://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=53053#more-53053
Only a matter of time before Metrist2021 lets them all know at Language
Log that he's the only one who knows how to construct sentences in
written English.
Not at all, though I am delighted by the coincidence of that LL post appearing right
after I raised the _exact same issue_ at this site. (My thanks to Jerry Friedman for
alerting us to the presence of that thread!) I think you can see, Athel, that the structure
at LL is the same one realized by all the examples in this thread containing an introductory
prepositional phrase followed by a compound subject consisting of more than two NPs.
That sentence presents the exact same punctuational problem, too, and you should note
that Professor Liberman says that "prosody could make the structure clear." In other words,
the type of sentence that you say is bad is _not bad at all_ in spoken English, so I'm glad that,
while insulting me, you used "knows how to construct sentences in _written_ English,"
revealing that you now are restricting your claim about these sentences' badness to written English.
I am interested in the problem, which, yes, I think does point to the use of nonconventional
punctuational strategies as the only possible solution(s). Should the problem have a solution
other than revising the sentence in written English so that it no longer uses the same structure?
I say that it should, because, given the possibility of flawlessly communicating the proper structure
in spoken English, there ought to be a way of representing the sentence in writing in a non-ridiculous way.
The four "possibilities" I propose are the semicolon, the line-break use of the slash, sentence-initial
A. Like Bruce Springsteen; Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others have all sold rights
to their music for eye-popping prices.
B. Like Bruce Springsteen, / Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others have all sold rights
to their music for eye-popping prices.
C. (Like Bruce Springsteen) Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others have all sold rights
to their music for eye-popping prices.
D. Like Bruce Springsteen,— Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others have all sold rights
to their music for eye-popping prices.
If anyone would care to rank these in order of his or her preference, I'd appreciate it. Also, I'm interested
if I've overlooked any other possibilities—besides revising the sentence, a solution that begs the question.
WHY ARE YOU UNWILLING TO ALTER THE OFFENDING SENTENCE(S)
IN THE FIRST PLACE?
BECAUSE THE PROBLEM DOES NOT EXIST IN SPOKEN ENGLISH
AND SUCH SENTENCES OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO BE WRITTEN.
Why?
A very great deal of spoken discourse would never appear in
edited writing.
That's why there are editors.
That's why it bothered you in the first place.
Note that someone reported that the NYT fixed the bad sentence.
What makes you think it is a bad sentence? Is it because of the garden path?
There would be no garden path in spoken English. Meanwhile, written English is not
the arbitor of good and bad English -- including formal, proper, standard English.
If written English has no convention for punctuating a perfectly good sentence, that
is not a problem of the sentence; it is a problem with our punctuation conventions.
Interestingly, the King James Bible sometimes uses commas after prepositional phrases,
as well as in other interesting places. Since when has the semicolon become so inhibited?

"For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham
returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave
a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also
King of Salem, which is, King of peace; without father, without mother, without descent,
having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God;
abideth a priest continually" (Hebrews 7:1-3).
The problem simply goes away if you do.
Peter Moylan
2021-12-22 05:43:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Metrist2021
Interestingly, the King James Bible sometimes uses commas after prepositional phrases,
as well as in other interesting places. Since when has the semicolon become so inhibited?
"For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham
returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave
a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also
King of Salem, which is, King of peace; without father, without mother, without descent,
having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God;
abideth a priest continually" (Hebrews 7:1-3).
In that entire passage I would remove only one comma to turn it into
modern English.
--
Peter Moylan Newcastle, NSW http://www.pmoylan.org
Peter T. Daniels
2021-12-22 14:51:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter Moylan
Post by Metrist2021
Interestingly, the King James Bible sometimes uses commas after prepositional phrases,
as well as in other interesting places. Since when has the semicolon become so inhibited?
"For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham
returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave
a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also
King of Salem, which is, King of peace; without father, without mother, without descent,
having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God;
abideth a priest continually" (Hebrews 7:1-3).
In that entire passage I would remove only one comma to turn it into
modern English.
Which one? I'd probably take out two: "who met Abraham ..., and
blessed him" & "neither beginning of days, nor end of life".
What we see in our present-day editions isn't the 1611 orthography, but
the 18th-century revision. (It would be awkward for me to go fetch my
original-orthography edition -- which is not a facsimile, but a new typesetting
that -- checked against some facsimile pages -- exactly mimics the spelling,
pronunciation, and line division of the original.)
Adam Funk
2021-12-23 09:03:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Moylan
Post by Metrist2021
Interestingly, the King James Bible sometimes uses commas after prepositional phrases,
as well as in other interesting places. Since when has the semicolon become so inhibited?
"For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham
returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave
a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also
King of Salem, which is, King of peace; without father, without mother, without descent,
having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God;
abideth a priest continually" (Hebrews 7:1-3).
In that entire passage I would remove only one comma to turn it into
modern English.
Which one? I'd probably take out two: "who met Abraham ..., and
blessed him" & "neither beginning of days, nor end of life".
What we see in our present-day editions isn't the 1611 orthography, but
the 18th-century revision. (It would be awkward for me to go fetch my
original-orthography edition -- which is not a facsimile, but a new typesetting
that -- checked against some facsimile pages -- exactly mimics the spelling,
pronunciation, and line division of the original.)
Does the punctuation count as inspired for fundamentalist purposes?
--
Mrs CJ and I avoid clichés like the plague.
Peter T. Daniels
2021-12-23 13:34:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Adam Funk
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Moylan
Post by Metrist2021
Interestingly, the King James Bible sometimes uses commas after prepositional phrases,
as well as in other interesting places. Since when has the semicolon become so inhibited?
"For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham
returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave
a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also
King of Salem, which is, King of peace; without father, without mother, without descent,
having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God;
abideth a priest continually" (Hebrews 7:1-3).
In that entire passage I would remove only one comma to turn it into
modern English.
Which one? I'd probably take out two: "who met Abraham ..., and
blessed him" & "neither beginning of days, nor end of life".
What we see in our present-day editions isn't the 1611 orthography, but
the 18th-century revision. (It would be awkward for me to go fetch my
original-orthography edition -- which is not a facsimile, but a new typesetting
that -- checked against some facsimile pages -- exactly mimics the spelling,
punctuation, and line division of the original.)
Does the punctuation count as inspired for fundamentalist purposes?
In the "original manuscripts"?

I doubt that you'd find the 1611 version in their ambit, so, probably.
Adam Funk
2021-12-23 15:36:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Adam Funk
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Moylan
Post by Metrist2021
Interestingly, the King James Bible sometimes uses commas after prepositional phrases,
as well as in other interesting places. Since when has the semicolon become so inhibited?
"For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham
returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave
a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also
King of Salem, which is, King of peace; without father, without mother, without descent,
having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God;
abideth a priest continually" (Hebrews 7:1-3).
In that entire passage I would remove only one comma to turn it into
modern English.
Which one? I'd probably take out two: "who met Abraham ..., and
blessed him" & "neither beginning of days, nor end of life".
What we see in our present-day editions isn't the 1611 orthography, but
the 18th-century revision. (It would be awkward for me to go fetch my
original-orthography edition -- which is not a facsimile, but a new typesetting
that -- checked against some facsimile pages -- exactly mimics the spelling,
punctuation, and line division of the original.)
Does the punctuation count as inspired for fundamentalist purposes?
In the "original manuscripts"?
I doubt that you'd find the 1611 version in their ambit, so, probably.
The originals have little or no punctuation, right?
--
You measure democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the
freedom it gives its assimilated conformists. ---Abbie Hoffman
Peter T. Daniels
2021-12-23 19:14:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by Adam Funk
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Adam Funk
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Peter Moylan
Post by Metrist2021
Interestingly, the King James Bible sometimes uses commas after prepositional phrases,
as well as in other interesting places. Since when has the semicolon become so inhibited?
"For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham
returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave
a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also
King of Salem, which is, King of peace; without father, without mother, without descent,
having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God;
abideth a priest continually" (Hebrews 7:1-3).
In that entire passage I would remove only one comma to turn it into
modern English.
Which one? I'd probably take out two: "who met Abraham ..., and
blessed him" & "neither beginning of days, nor end of life".
What we see in our present-day editions isn't the 1611 orthography, but
the 18th-century revision. (It would be awkward for me to go fetch my
original-orthography edition -- which is not a facsimile, but a new typesetting
that -- checked against some facsimile pages -- exactly mimics the spelling,
punctuation, and line division of the original.)
Does the punctuation count as inspired for fundamentalist purposes?
In the "original manuscripts"?
I doubt that you'd find the 1611 version in their ambit, so, probably.
The originals have little or no punctuation, right?
Masoretic Hebrew has way more syntactic (= melodic) punctuation
than anyone could want. Epigraphic Hebrew often put spaces between
words. The final forms of Hebrew (etc.) letter start appearing in the
late 5th c. BCE.

Greek usually didn't use word spaces, but only a few letters can come
at the end of a word in Greek.

Peter Moylan
2021-12-22 22:46:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter Moylan
Post by Metrist2021
Interestingly, the King James Bible sometimes uses commas after prepositional phrases,
as well as in other interesting places. Since when has the semicolon become so inhibited?
"For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham
returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave
a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also
King of Salem, which is, King of peace; without father, without mother, without descent,
having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God;
abideth a priest continually" (Hebrews 7:1-3).
In that entire passage I would remove only one comma to turn it into
modern English.
Which one? I'd probably take out two: "who met Abraham ..., and
blessed him" & "neither beginning of days, nor end of life".
I would take out only the comma before "King of peace".
--
Peter Moylan Newcastle, NSW http://www.pmoylan.org
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