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    #1

    Extraneous comma

    Here's an excerpt from an article written by Bryan Garner:

    "A panda walks into a cafe, eats a sandwich, fires a gun, and then walks out. Someone says, "Why'd you do that?" The panda replies, "Go look it up." In the dictionary is an entry that says: "Panda. A large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China, that eats shoots and leaves." (One version of the joke has an extraneous comma after eats. That's the version Truss uses. She'd probably also change the that in the definition to a which.)"

    Why would a comma after "eats" be extraneous?

    Thanks,

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    #2

    Re: Extraneous comma

    The comma is extraneous only if it didn't feature in the original version of the joke.

    The author is pointing out Truss' nature - the compulsion that she feels in needing to correct something that can be easily understood albeit with a minor punctuation error.

    In other forums, she would be deemed as part of the grammar police/nazi who are more intent on telling people off than addressing their queries.

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Extraneous comma

    Quote Originally Posted by magimagicE View Post
    The author is pointing out Truss' nature - the compulsion that she feels in needing to correct something that can be easily understood albeit with a minor punctuation error.
    Then the author is an idiot who doesn't understand the joke. The punctuation error in the dictionary (which must use the comma for the joke to work) is the only thing that makes it funny.

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    #4

    Re: Extraneous comma

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Then the author is an idiot who doesn't understand the joke. The punctuation error in the dictionary (which must use the comma for the joke to work) is the only thing that makes it funny.

    Actually, the author understands the joke and is aware of different versions of it. He is more concerned with its delivery rather than its written correctness.

    In other words, he implies that Truss is being anal about its written form. The joke does not need the comma as the mind automatically inserts it, and the "eats shoots" part of the punchline forces a semi-natural pause between each word when they are spoken together making the need for a comma redundant. The quote from the dictionary can be used as-is, with no modifications.
    Last edited by magimagicE; 11-May-2010 at 02:56.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Extraneous comma

    Quote Originally Posted by magimagicE View Post
    Actually, the author understands the joke and is aware of different versions of it. He is more concerned with its delivery rather than its written correctness.

    In other words, he implies that Truss is being anal about its written form. The joke does not need the comma as the mind automatically inserts it, and the "eats shoots" part of the punchline forces a semi-natural pause between each word when they are spoken together making the need for a comma redundant. The quote from the dictionary can be used as-is, with no modifications.
    I disagree, but we all have a different sense of humour, I guess.
    I also think that Garner cannot be talking about it's oral delivery if he's discussing commas, which do not occur in speech.
    But I do agree that there's a vaguely amusing joke without the comma, and a much wittier one with it. Some people only half understand witty jokes.
    Perhaps one's knowledge of, and attitude towards, punctuation has something to do with how one responds to the various forms. The whole point of the joke is that the panda would not have pulled this stunt if the dictionary entry had been punctuated correctly.

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