i'm trying to translate into english a russian(?) wordplay: казнить нельзя помиловать, which means literally: to execute impossible to pardon. in russian the play is built on punctuation's role in this language: depending on where you put a comma there's a change in meaning; either EXECUTE or PARDON.
IS there an idiom or any expression in Eng., that could render the same sense.
E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
The following advice of Bishop Orleton to Gourney and Maltravers in 1327 is an excellent example of the importance of punctuation:—Edwardum occidere nolite timere bonum est—“Refrain not to kill King Edward is right.” If the point is placed after the first word, the sentence reads, “Not to kill the king is right;” but if after the second word, the direction becomes, “Refrain not; to kill the king is right.” (See ORACLE.)