pittwitch

The Direct Address Comma Rule

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This has been driving me nuts in the Archive. I learned this rule as a ten year old kid so I now question WTH our kids are being taught. This comma makes all the difference in the world in a sentence. Let's demonstrate!

"Let's eat, Grandma!" means that we want Grandma to put the grub on the table.

"Let's eat Grandma!" means that we have suddenly become cannibals and Grandma IS the grub.

A lowly comma, long neglected by lazy writers, completely changes the context!

It also applies to terms of endearment or titles:

"Yes, Master," murmured the slave.

"Good night, my sweet," whispered the dom.

If even one person changes their evil ways, I shall rejoice with dancing, dearies!

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I am ancient enough to remember all sorts of rules of grammar and punctuation that have gone by the wayside, it seems. Such as using a comma at the end of dialogue, before closing the quotation and appending attribution, a convention that is also mysteriously absent in the archive.

Even if our children aren't actually being taught any of these things, there are numerous websites where one can self educate. Google is our friend. Failing that, one can real a book, an actual published book that has been printed and sold. It will be a revelation to see punctuation properly applied.

Edited by BronxWench

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Bronxie! That was my next sticking point. Geez, how can anyone call themselves a writer if they totally ignore all the rules of writing?

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Or if they haven't managed to read an actual book? The sad part is that this is not limited to the younger members, either. There are a great many members old enough to have learned these rules, but who simply can't be bothered, or so it seems.

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Pittwitch, it seems they can do so rather easily, unfortunately. After all, as one person stated, prose and screen-writing are identical forms and require no alternative means of formatting. <_<

Of course, that's complete bunk, but since the tripe is actually believed by someone, I'm quite certain that they also believe that using proper punctuation is neither wanted nor needed to communicate.

Considering the frequent miscommunication that occurs in society at large, one would think that the finer points of language would be at the fore of what the educational system chooses to impart. Sadly, however, it does not seem to be so. I can tell you that I saw a story a few months ago that attributed lines to a character that, had they been spoken by that character, made no sense whatsoever. The faux pas was the result of bad punctuation, which, yes, I did point out to the author in a review.

I shudder to think, though, that not only have the rules of grammar fallen to the wayside, but it also seems that broadening one's vocabulary is no longer considered a proper use of time. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've read the same phrase repeatedly within the same section of prose. It's not only irritating, it's boring.

And, Bronx, surely you jest. Read a book? Why, there're movies to prevent that practice!

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You are absolutely a writer, perhaps a writer of pornography, but a writer nonetheless. Plus, you do have a solid enough grasp of your native language to craft amazing tales. :D Yes, JayDee, you are a writer.

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Heaven forbid, though, if we point out to someone that they make mistakes or need help. After all, this isn't a professional writing site and we shouldn't treat things in it as such. Or we hold the written word that people post to a standard of readability that doesn't want to make you spork your eyes out or you need a version of Babel Fish to figure out what was said.

And, sorry, not buying the dyslexia excuse for poor writing either as I am one that suffers from it and i sure as heck don't put that kind of horribly written stuff out there!

Sorry, all the excuses out there for poor writing are just that... excuses! There are ways to get help or fix it if you want to, most just think they don't have to bother.

</rant>

*goes back to hiding*

Edited by Danyealle

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Agrees with Dany's rant.

Folks, not taking the time to learn the rules of grammar, even the simplest ones, is insulting to the readers and sheer laziness on the part of the so-called authors who ignore them despite someone trying to explain them.

Clambers down off soapbox, for now.

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Ah, I love these conversations. It always sparks the "holier than thou" part of me that enjoys feeling superior to others. There aren't many aspects of life that I can claim to be an expert in, but I've always felt that I put a lot more effort than most others into language: spelling, usage and grammar. If you detect sarcasm braided with self-deprecation overlaying basic truth, then you get my point. (and perhaps, apple pie!) I'm not pointing any fingers, other than at myself, for I grew up lording it over my sister (older). It, being my aptitude for spelling, but mostly, having a better understanding of word usage. Just at Xmas dinner, she said, "The scent of the candle is "waffing" over to her." I bit my tongue in order not to correct her. That was a rare moment for me because I don't hesitate to do so at every turn. (and did incessantly during Xmas-time) We were both raised similarly, so it's not that I had any advantage other than my brain works differently. I have struggled to get over the enjoyment I gain at feeling that I'm better than her, but most of the time it's a losing battle. We are what we are. Because I have this relationship with my sister, I try to practice leniency for most poor writing I encounter. However, as I've admitted, my inflated ego gets the better of me, many times, and I tactlessly point out the flaws I perceive.

Seriously, the ease of learning literacy concepts and memorizing how words are spelled or used is something we may take for granted. Many people can't incorporate what they are taught simply because they aren't wired that way. They still have creativity and imagination that blows me away, and they deserve the forum to express themselves. I would like to see them recognize that they still need to try to learn, though. At the very least, proofreading their own work before they submit would make a huge difference. The worst part of being so "perfect", as many of you can attest to, is knowing that when you make a despicable mistake, you berate yourself the hardest. "Bad _____, you should know better!" I know that as long as there is someone who can point out my errors, I tremble every time I make a post or submit a story.

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In addition to the dyslexia excuse, the "I was writing this late at night and I didn't proof read" or "proof read as I go" and "I don't have a beta reader" excuses are also irritating. Not so much as blaming dyslexia. My word processor underlines it in red - as does my web browser. If yours doesn't, you need to update your software.

And the one that I just opened actually admitted to deleting a review because it pointed out her flaws. That's not how I would expect a serious writer to behave.

Edit: Raymy, I was typing mine as your posted, and I didn't see your last statement first. So let me just say this: if there wasn't someone there to point out that there was a flaw, I don't know that the work would be worth the effort. Honestly, if someone doesn't point them out, then will you ever be a better writer? Do you want to stumble along thinking that you're perfect, only to find out when you finally have a serious reader that expects some amount of quality that you're not? (Not saying anything about your writing specifically, but those in general that don't want any type of criticism, just 'great job' responses.)

Regardless, yes, the whole point is that self-editing - learning about the aspects of the language in the first place - would prevent a lot of hard feelings on the part of people who post stories online. I've read works by those whose first, second and third languages are not English that have a better grasp of the finer points than those who grew up in households speaking it.

Edited by RogueMudblood

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Edit: Raymy, I was typing mine as your posted, and I didn't see your last statement first. So let me just say this: if there wasn't someone there to point out that there was a flaw, I don't know that the work would be worth the effort. Honestly, if someone doesn't point them out, then will you ever be a better writer? Do you want to stumble along thinking that you're perfect, only to find out when you finally have a serious reader that expects some amount of quality that you're not? (Not saying anything about your writing specifically, but those in general that don't want any type of criticism, just 'great job' responses.)

Regardless, yes, the whole point is that self-editing - learning about the aspects of the language in the first place - would prevent a lot of hard feelings on the part of people who post stories online. I've read works by those whose first, second and third languages are not English that have a better grasp of the finer points than those who grew up in households speaking it.

Aye, that is the point. (BTW, thank you for using the word regardless correctly. I am SICK of hearing people say "irregardless") Some people make more of an effort than others to improve their skills. I still believe that some just don't have it in them to improve to my exacting standards. And... that is my problem. However, I don't actually tremble at criticism, because I am a lover of learning and don't truly believe that I know all there is to know. I would welcome con crit if I had readers who would be willing.

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I think a large part of the issue is the instant gratification that the internet and self-publishing sites, like ours, provide. People rush, rush, rush but never polish. For the most part, if the grammar is totally ignored, I ignore the story. The back button is there for a reason, after all.

Now what really burns my butt are the authors who ask for betas, are lucky enough to find someone who will work with them, then refuse to learn anything, apply the changes or post chapters before the beta returns the corrections. Hence, at least three reasons I refuse to beta anymore.

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Okay, Okay, you've got me. I've been re-educated regarding "irregardless". I don't like the way it sounds, but am willing to control my impulse to correct a word that is so commonly used. I agree with the one commenter, that the use of double negatives in language adds subtlety to meaning and does not refer to the opposite meaning. I am also a mathematically inclined, logical person, hence, my profession in the sciences. That is probably why I have trouble with them.

Edit: PW, we posted at the same time. LOL. There's a bit of that going around. I agree with you. I'm pretty good at exposition and composition. I write "how to" manuals at work. I don't think I'm nearly as creative as I'd like to be, but I appreciate in others, so I think maybe it's there, just needs nurturing.

Edited by Raymy

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I can't imagine where I would have been if someone hadn't volunteered to beta for me. Expository writing and composition were my strong suits. My first attempt at creativeness was, frankly, frightening.

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I don't have a beta myself, largely because my fandom pieces are not in wildly popular fandoms and I do want someone who gets the 'verse in which I dabble. My original works, well, I have no excuse there other than not really knowing anyone I'd pester to beta for me. But I do also welcome concrit and delight in having someone point out where I can improve.

I have an inner Grammar Bitch who is relentless in terms of pointing out errors in punctuation, and who has made me twitch for years when I write dialogue that is not grammatically impeccable. Honestly, we aren't all known for flawless exposition all the time, and dialogue can sound stilted if you force the issue. I have manuscripts that will never get out of first draft if I don't reign in my tyrannical inner editor. I'm overly critical of myself, and the fact that I hit the publish button at all is amazing.

There should be a fine line between my obsessive self criticism and the blithe disregard for convention that triggered this thread. It would be refreshing, anyway, given that a great many of the people who can't be bothered to try and clean up grammar and punctuation errors are the same people who are upset by the lack of reviews on their stories.

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Bronx, I would always beta for you. You are an exceptional writer, and your grammar is inherently strong. You'd be a refreshing breeze!

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There should be a fine line between my obsessive self criticism and the blithe disregard for convention that triggered this thread. It would be refreshing, anyway, given that a great many of the people who can't be bothered to try and clean up grammar and punctuation errors are the same people who are upset by the lack of reviews on their stories.

This.

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I mostly have problems with people who either misuse punctuation (when it's so easy to find online guides that have examples) and people who maul grammar horribly. (Drives me crazy when people use the wrong your/you're, there/they're/their, etc. I don't know about other people, but my teachers went over the difference between those from pretty much the time I started school clear into high school. If you don't know the difference after that long, you weren't paying attention. Even my German teacher went over it. ...he got pretty snarly about it, too, which had half the class grumbling and the other half of us giving significant shut up looks to our louder classmates.)

I can understand people not knowing when/how exactly to use, for example, semi-colons. The more rare and professional level punctuation. That's fine. They can ask, or look it up, or just not use them. And when they get those words that sound the same but have different meanings, that's where a good beta or a dictionary would come in rather handy.

My pet peeve (in this category) is that so many people either don't care or are just flat rude to you when you tell them, hey, this isn't perfect; here's a way you could improve it. Gee, people, sorry you're imperfect like the rest of us. Get over yourself, drop the attitude, and be thankful we care enough to help and/or give pointers. I don't leave reviews with suggestions and pointers and constructive criticism for myself; I do it for you. So you can be better, so you can improve, so you can get even more readers and reviews. Isn't that what every writer wants?

There is one lady on FFnet right now who's an artist, draws as part of a group for manga, and she has admitted to me that she's not good with English and she's not really looking to improve right now, or to find a beta, because she's writing this story for fun, when she's stressed, because it's a plot she's had developing in her head for a long time and she wants to get it out there, shared. It's a little difficult sometimes to figure out what she means, but usually it's pretty easily understandable by the end of a chapter. She's so swamped with work most of the time that she doesn't even have the energy to write, so in order for her to post, she doesn't really edit except as she goes along. Normally, the grammar (or lack thereof) would bother me, but. She doesn't have run-on sentences almost ever. She's very clear with her phrasing as to who and what she's talking about. And the plot is wonderful and her characterization is great. It's probably the only story where that number of mistakes doesn't bother me (probably in part because most of them aren't the your/you're their/there/they're mix-ups that annoy me to no end).

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Okay Cuzosu, since this is my rant, I'm going to point out a few things using your post as an example. Please don't take this personally. It isn't. I don't know you at all. I just know what I read here.

1) The parenthetical aside: Had I used this "style" trick in any of my writing, my instructors would have torn me to shreds. I watched them do it to others. You are the author. Yours is the voice. There is no need (absolutely none) to cheat proper punctuation by using parentheses to address your readers separately. http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/parens.asp

2) Improper use of the ellipses ... meaning those three little dots which are used as a pause or to indicate that words have been left out of a quote. They do not follow a period. The punctuation follows them.http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/ellipses.asp

Also, if a pause in the reader is what you are after -- an em-dash is more acceptable. http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/dashes.asp

3) The non-sentence: The more rare and professional level punctuation.

4) The splice, whether a comma or semi-colon: hey, this isn't perfect; here's a way you could improve it. This is two sentences. And you left out the quotation marks to signify this was something spoken, or written. "Hey, this isn't perfect. Here's a way you could improve it."

5) May I point out that all of this is off-topic. The Direct Address Comma, poor thing, is dead.

Edited by pittwitch

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I can be horrible with grammar, and I can stress over it for days to months after I've written something. It isn't that I never learned how to use grammar properly (as I did, and have since also been looking at many grammar websites out there), it is more from the fact that I do (more often than what I would like) forget to insert a comma or a full stop at any given moment. In doing that, I still manage to skip over one or two areas that still need either one of the two in there or maybe even both!

I am dyslexic, and do tend to stick with a simpler way of writing just to keep me sane and not get in a mood over my writing and end up giving up on it half way through when I can't think of the word I need. I even manage that when I'm speaking to someone, and if they have not known me all that long, it's confusing for them as well as for me. I'm lucky that Pooka understands what I mean at any given moment, as I will either say the wrong thing for the moment and mean something totally different, or I will forget what I am saying and have verbal diarrhea in the form of squeaks and silly noises that sort of sound like words. It is quite amusing for my friends though, even if it isn't for me

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