Sunday, March 25, 2007

Just Be Quiet and Mind Your Commas

Ms. Vennochi:
As a mother who has lost a child, I suggest that you should have kept your gloss of the Edwards decision to yourself.

You don't have a lock on what motivates Elizabeth Edwards to urge her husband to keep running.

Even if you are right, the decision on how to live the rest of her short life is hers alone. My impression is that she makes her own decisions, which is what feminists--and I am one--want women to do.

She will keep her youngest tot with her on the road. Think what enrichment for the synapses these campaign adventures will be for the boy with this intrepid mother. He will write a book about the experience as soon as he can pull himself up to a CRT screen.

If Ms. Edwards has chosen to flee her pain in the loss of her first child, so what? It's as good a choice as wallowing in it.

Sometimes pundits should have the grace to be quiet and reflect on the vagaries of commas.

lee drury de cesare

The prognosis changed last week, when Edwards called a press conference to announce that his wife's cancer had returned in incurable, but treatable, form. "The campaign goes on strongly," he declared. At their joint press conference, she said the campaign "is not about John Edwards," but rather, about the country's future.

These commas are redundant: "but treatable" is a restrictive prepositional phrase. In case you thought so, "but" does not signal a contrasting element; "not" does.

The commas surrounding "but rather" are redundant because "but rather, about the country's future" is a restrictive prepositional phrase.

lee drury de cesare


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