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Should comma usage be universal?
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Inconsistent comma usage denotes a downfall in the overall literacy and communication skills of society

The confusion and differences in meaning caused by a single punctuation mark are extremely disconcerting. Standardizing would simplify the language for all readers. Notable proponents include Lynne Truss and John Updike.

The Argument

Comma misuse is one of the greatest sources of misinterpretation in adults. The lack of standardization surrounding concepts like the Oxford comma has led to such outlandish grammatical failures that it seems unreasonable not to pose some level of unification to punctuation mark usage.[1] Not only does a misplaced comma change the meaning of a sentence, but many individuals will also utilize multiple versions of comma usage within the same article, which is difficult to follow.[2] Encouraging standardization does not decrease individualization so much as it increases literacy, legibility, and overall quality of language. As we begin to let go of traditional grammar rules and conventions, the quality of our written interaction declines.[3] As texting and short-form messaging have become primary methods of communication, rules such as capitalization, punctuation, and complete sentences have become ancient. Within short-form messaging, it is okay to suspend the rules of grammar, but for all official publications, we should adhere to a stricter universal standard that unites all readers and increases our understanding of each other.

Counter arguments

This sort of aggressive standardization is what leads many to call proponents of universal punctuation “grammar Nazis,” which casts much of literary studies in an elitist light. In addition, many different languages have different punctuation rules, so standardizing across cultures would be extremely difficult and, at times, unreasonable.



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Monday, 30 Nov 2020 at 18:31 UTC