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  • Category: Miscellaneous

    Comma(,) killed a man

    Ever wondered about how incorrect punctuation can create havoc? Join this thread to learn the importance of punctuation.

    Punctuation is a very important point in writing. What should be the punctuation mark and where to use it is a very important point to learn. In our high school studies, teachers used to teach this important topic. But nowadays I think many are not having a good knowledge about this.

    They used to tell a story about how a comma killed a man. A man was found guilty and awarded a death sentence. The day of hanging had come. Meanwhile his relatives went for the mercy of the then President and he cancelled his death sentence. A telegram was immediately sent to the jail stating-

    " Save him, not hang him". But the postal department has sent the telegram
    which read " save him not, hang him". The jailer saw this message and hanged the
    person. This is how they used to tell us the importance of this punctuation. Is it being taught these days in the same way?
  • #598447
    I remember my father used to tell about this great phrase those days when the telegram was the only means to convey urgent messages and we are bound to give short but meaningful content and in that melee keeping the comma at right place may change the meaning and in the above case a life. Normally we we are discussing a issue in writing and you are giving the response, after the comma the actual matter starts and thus comma plays important role in sentence formation. But I fear no teacher, nor at tuition the children are taught about the importance of comma.
    K Mohan
    'Idhuvum Kadandhu Pogum "
    Even this challenging situation would ease

  • #598460
    To denote this only we used to call the Hanuman as 'master of words', as He uttered the words 'seen sita' to Lord Rama on seeing Him on his return from Lanka. If he told like 'sita,....' Rama would have disheartened. To avoid this Hanuman removed the comma from his saying.

  • #598471
    Comma is pretty useful actually. According to me, the most abused punctuation mark too. It is the most improperly used symbol. Without it you can't make long sentences meaningful.
    Can't give breaks and can't throw emphasis.

    The stronger a light shines the darker are the shadows around it.

  • #598522
    Quite true, Dr. Srinivasa Rao. Comma is quite a potent punctuation mark and you have given an example of its potency. I remember while studying in a village school, the teacher introduced this punctuation mark to us in Hindi by quoting an example, 'Roko, Mat Jane Do' and 'Roko Mat, Jane Do'. And after this he introduced it in English. It is quite vivid in my mind even today.
    They say English is a funny language. Often quoted example is the pronunciation of the words 'but' and 'put'. But for comma also there are different versions. I would like to quote the following example:
    'I find inspiration in cooking my family and my dog'.
    'I find inspiration in cooking, my family and my dog'.
    Obviously, insertion of a comma has changed the meaning of the sentence.
    But the teacher of my daughter who studied in a Convent school, was not satisfied about the correctness of the second sentence even. Her corrected version was:
    I find inspiration in cooking, my family, and my dog.
    The plea was that a comma has to be put before 'and' also.


    "Semper Sursum"

  • #598552
    A very useful thread. I have seen that nowadays people don't give much importance on using comma properly in a sentence. As the author has aptly stated, comma can totally change the meaning of a sentence. I have also heard the same story which the author has narrated.
    I feel that this thread is very important. I thank the author for raising this informative thread.

    Non-violence is the greatest Dharma; So too is all righteous violence.

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