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    #1

    paradoxically

    Hi, all.
    What are the paradoxical things in the following paragraph?

    The comma is the speed bump of the punctuation world. With its power to pause, the comma controls the ebb and flow of a sentence, its rhythm, its speed. Based on frequency alone the comma wields tremendous influence, outnumbering the period by at least three to one, and outnumbering other punctuation marks by at least five to one. And yet, paradoxically, it is also the mark most open to interpretation. The comma has few hard rules, and as a result is the mark most often misused.
    -- Noah Lukeman, A Dash of Style

    Hereís my ideas.
    1 The comma doesnít seem to accept no interpretation other than the speed bump of the punctuation world, but it opens to interpretation.
    2. The comma wields tremendous influence and such a big mark seems to have hard rules, but actually it has few hard rules.

    Iíd be glad if you could explain it.
    Thank you.

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: paradoxically

    You would THINK that a punctuation mark used as often as the comma (especially when you consider how powerful it is) would be used correctly and with agreement, but you'd be wrong.

    That's the (alleged) paradox — usually we get better at using things we use a lot, or usually we're careful about using things that have a lot of power, but that's not so with the comma.


    I enjoy cooking, my friends, and my cats. -- I have a hobby.
    I enjoy cooking my friends and my cats. -- I'm a cannibal!
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #3

    Re: paradoxically

    This use of the word "paradoxically" to mean 'against expectations' is simply not appropriate, in my judgement. There are no paradoxes mentioned.

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    #4

    Re: paradoxically

    Hi, Barb_D Hi, jutfrank. Thanks for your attention to my first question in this forum.
    Honestly, I canít decide whether it means Ďagainst expectationsí or not, (a) because the expectation seems a little ambiguous to nail down (including two ideas of mine), and (b) because I canít see why he uses paradoxically if it has no effective meaning.

    Is there any possibility he says paradoxically when he means something else?
    Is there any confusing word for paradoxically, like alternately and alternatively?

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: paradoxically

    No, there is zero possibility that he meant "alternatively."

    I can't say for certain what his expectations regarding the frequency of correct use (and agreement about the correct use) of the comma are, but he feels our actual use and our actual disagreement is a paradox to those expectations.

    It's not important enough for you to labor over.

    Just understand what the passage means.
    Commas are used a lot.
    They can change meanings so they hold a lot of power.
    Even so, we don't use them correctly a lot of the time.
    Even so, we don't always agree what "correctly" means.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 18-Apr-2016 at 21:05. Reason: Fixed typo
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #6

    Re: paradoxically

    I agree with Barb_D above.

    I can't really follow his thought clearly, either. It seems that he's saying that because the comma is so common, one would not expect it to be particularly open to interpretation. I would say if anything it would be the other way round - that is, more open to interpretation.

    So there are two things wrong with this paragraph. First, the thought is neither well-expressed nor well-justified. Second, the word I gather he really means to say is something like 'counterintuitively', or 'unexpectedly', and certainly not 'paradoxically'.

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    #7

    Re: paradoxically

    Okay, Iím going to take it as both of you say.
    Barb_D, thanks for your simple explanation. Youíve been a big help. (Iím sorry my English is poor. I meant to say ĎIs paradoxically often confused with some word just like alternately is commonly confused with alternatively?í )
    Thanks, jutfrank. You put things so neatly in such clear order.

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