Monday, June 24, 2013

Living Through the Comma Splices

I'm only halfway through my college career, but I feel like I am a decent English major. I've taken all the classes on grammar that I'm going to take and I can write a solid essay under the right circumstances. For me, learning grammar wasn't the desirable part of being an English major. I was interested in finding out how meaning is conveyed in a story. I was interested in learning how authors weave language into emotion. I was not interested in learning about comma splices and semicolons. The professors here taught me smidgens of grammar despite my resistance. I won't be diagramming your sentences anytime soon and if you read this blog you will find typographical and grammatical errors aplenty, but comma splices are a particularly grievous error I attempt to avoid. In the same way that listening to the Pachelbel Rant makes it so you can't unhear Pachelbel's canon in every modern pop song and the Death Star will always look like the AT&T logo after someone points it out, once you know what a comma splice is you will notice every single one. Twitter has comma splices. Best-selling authors have comma splices. Actually, even the Bible has comma splices. Bad grammar is everywhere and totally inappropriate for me to point out in almost all situations.

It's not annoying to me that people don't know that sentences can only have one independent clause; it's annoying to me that I think it. I wish I could watch lap swim without correcting everyone's stroke in my mind just as much as I wish I could enjoy bad writing simply for the ideas and story, but I can't. If authors (even young ones) refuse to learn about comma splices and run-ons then I can't really respect them. I don't really care about grammar; I just want language to be clear and easy to understand. I want to know that people respect the complexity in language. When people who aren't dyslexic and have been speaking a language since birth string together run-ons haphazardly it tells me that they don't think the way we communicate is important. I don't have time for people who aren't willing to admit the miracle that is linguistics. Our languages have astonishingly few lexical gaps, a surprising amount of depth, and an improbable level of nuance. I can live with comma splices, but it's a struggle because I believe so strongly that intelligent discourse hinges on an appreciation for the language you are using.

Please point out my grammar mistakes in comments below. I'm stressed out about it in this particular post.

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