Comma Conundrum

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Early in my blogging, I wrote a post about a tough talking, ex-Mafia dude from New Jersey who was in school at a community college here and struggling through a freshman English class.  I must have smiled ever so slightly when he told me this because he glared at me with irritation and said, “Yeah. It’s probably easy for you. You look like someone who understands commas.”  Well yes, I thought at the time. Yes, I do. Or at least I like to think I do — yet the comma conundrum continues.  One of my friends thinks I use far too many commas in my writing and my husband thinks I need considerably more of them.  I got in this discussion with another friend of mine who writes. She dearly loves commas and peppers her own stuff liberally with them.  This particular friend has a visual disability and most of her literary input comes from audio resources.  She uses a lot of commas because she finds them invaluable when listening to audio books — and she likes to contemplate her own writing as eventual audio.  My very first job was writing commercial radio copy and I was accustomed to inserting commas in the commercials so that the announcer would pause in the reading at appropriate times. In most cases, that on-air announcer was my husband, which explains his own love of comma use.  I think it’s interesting that aside from grammatical correctness, to some degree commas are subjective.  They kind of owe their level of appreciation — or not — to someone’s background and circumstances.  The beauty of commas may be in the eye — or possibly the ear — of the beholder.

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